Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 19/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you
First Letter to the Corinthians 03/01-11: "I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ."

Vote Charbel Bassil for the Catholic Separate French Trustee Board Schools In Mississauga انتخب شربل باسيل لعضوية مجلس أمناء المدارس الكاثوليكية الفرنسية في ماسيسوكا
نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

Daily Lebanese/Arabic - English news bulletins on our LCCC web site.Click on the link below

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 18-19/18
Yes KSA régime is a partner for stability in the region and a partner in the war against terror.
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/October 18/18
Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage at Risk From Coastal Flooding and Erosion Due to Sea-Level Rise/Nature Communications/Thursday 18th October 2018
Department of Justice Right to Go after Hezbollah/Emanuele Ottolenghi/The Hill/October 18/18
Human Rights Watch: No Action to Enforce Lebanon's New Waste Law
Lebanon and the Iranian takeover/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 18/18
Khashoggi’s alleged fiancée and ties to radical ‘charity’ linked to ISIS, Qaeda/Huda al-Saleh, Al, 18 October 2018
Insider Trading Isn’t So Simple/Matt Levine/Bloomberg/October 18/18
The strategic and spiritual weight of Saudi Arabia/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/October 18/18
Israel’s war planes unlikely to be deterred by Syrian missiles/Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 17/18
Five things to know about 'MBS,' Saudi Arabia's crown prince/Tal Axelrod/The Hill/October 18/18
Opportunistic Iran regime supports Al-Qaeda-linked terror group/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 18/18
The Chilling Effect of the Khashoggi Case: A Trigger for Arabs Living in Fear/Tuqa Nusairat/Atlantic Council/October 18/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 18-19/18
Yes KSA régime is a partner for stability in the region and a partner in the war against terror.
Nasrallah: Awareness battle key to face schemes targeting Lebanon
Karpowership: Esra Sultan leaves Lebanon after a successfully accomplished mission
Lebanon: Government Expected to See Light Early Next Week
Aoun: Government Lineup is Imminent
Report: Breakthrough in Govt. Lineup Looms as Obstacles Ease
Franjieh: We Won't Join Govt. without Public Works Portfolio
Armenian Parties Insist on Two Ministers in New Govt.
Geagea Reassured on LF's Govt. Share, Denies Obstructing Aoun's Tenure
Hariri Receives Sweden Crown Princess Victoria
Two Killed, Several Wounded in Water Tank Explosion in Nabatieh
Swedish Princess Victoria Tours Palestinian Refugee Camp, Meets UNRWA
Lebanon: Palestinian Weapons Fuel Factional Conflicts
Lebanon votes against international gay rights bill
Army: Lebanese side held onto sovereignty during tripartite meeting in Ras Naqoura
Army Commander meets Finnish Ambassador
Report Details Annual Salaries of Lebanese Officials
LF Cabinet portfolio still under review
Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage at Risk From Coastal Flooding and Erosion Due to Sea-Level Rise
Department of Justice Right to Go after Hezbollah
Human Rights Watch: No Action to Enforce Lebanon's New Waste Law
Lebanon and the Iranian takeover

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 18-19/18
Casualties as Gunman Opens Fire on Afghan-U.S. Security Meeting
Iran Rejects US Sanctions on IRGC’s Basij
UN’s Special Rapporteur in Iran Calls for ‘Transparent’ Probe into Death of Protesters
Russia and Turkey give more time for Idlib deal in Syria - UN
Russia negotiates deal with ISIS to release abducted women in Syria’s Sweida
Head of U.N. Humanitarian Taskforce for Syria to Step Down
Iraq: Abdul Mahdi Determined to Present New Line-up Next Week
UN Syria Envoy to Try to Move on Constitution before Leaving
Jordan: 279 Syrian 'White Helmets' Leave for West
Trump Says Looks Like Khashoggi Dead, Threatens Consequences
Khashoggi’s alleged fiancée and ties to radical ‘charity’ linked to ISIS, Qaeda
Turkey’s justice minister calls on public to ‘ignore leaks’ in Khashoggi case
Dutch Minister Ditches Saudi Summit over Khashoggi
US Newspaper Publishes 'Last Piece' by Missing Saudi Journalist
French Minister Pulls Out of Saudi Conference over Khashoggi
Turkish Newspaper Accuses Saudi Official over Missing Journalist
UK PM Mulls Longer Transition as EU Demands Brexit Progress

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 18-19/18
Yes KSA régime is a partner for stability in the region and a partner in the war against terror.
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/October 18/18
Yes Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
No it was not premeditated since all mistakes in the book of premeditation were made. It would have been way easier to pop him in the streets of Istanbul.
Yes this is a major mistake by MBS (the interrogation that went wrong and the clumsy coverup).
No KSA’s rulers have never been in the business of killing their political opponents.
Yes Khashoggi was the worst kind of opportunist who has built strong ties with the Muslim brotherhood. The latter charte claims Mekka and Madina.
No Khashoggi never cared for freedom of the press. He’s best pal with Erdogan and like all islamists they claim freedom of the press until they seize power.
Yes Washington post were naive in allowing this opportunist Islamist to have his own column; although sporadically.
Yes KSA régime is a partner for stability in the region and a partner in the war against terror.
Denouncing the crime against khashoggi is an obligation.
But to make this little opportunist journalist and Islamist blackmailer a hero of freedom of expression there is more than one world, the universe.
**The bullshit, deception and megalomania of riachi are one of the greatest dangers that threaten Lebanon. Another great danger is that geagea is tjs by his minister's bullshit.
It is 2 fingers to declare the 7th crusade and write a book to gaddafi.

Nasrallah: Awareness battle key to face schemes targeting Lebanon
Thu 18 Oct 2018/NNA - Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, highlighted the necessity of what he termed as "the battle of awareness" in order to be able to face the plots concocted against Lebanon and the Resistance, "The battle of awareness is essential to face the schemes targeting Lebanon and the Resistance," Nasrallah said in a private meeting with the employees of Annour radio station, upon its 30th foundation anniversary. "One of the most primordial challenges we are facing nowadays is the attempt to topple the Resistance in its own environment by sowing seeds of strife," a statement by Hezbollah quoted Nasrallah as stressing. "With our awareness, we shall foil this scheme like we have done to other schemes," he said. Moreover, Nasrallah highlighted the necessity of accuracy while disseminating news, warning of the reverberations of social media. "We must all be present in the battle of new media," he underlined.

Karpowership: Esra Sultan leaves Lebanon after a successfully accomplished mission
Thu 18 Oct 2018/ NNA - After supporting the Lebanese electricity grid with an additional 200 MW over the summer, the Esra Sultan Powership will finish the last part of the fuel on-board and shut off late tomorrow (October 19, 2018) afternoon, Karpowership company announced in a statement on Thursday. Subsequently it is expected for the disconnection works to be completed within two to three days after which Esra Sultan will be ready to leave Lebanese waters subject to marine and weather conditions. During its operations in Lebanon Karpowership has provided the most cost-effective and cheaper power to the Lebanese people delivering savings for EDL and Lebanese people since energy from our Powerships is the cheapest, compared to the cost of private generators, imports from Syria, old EDL power plants. Despite all the obstacles, challenges and misperceptions by some parties, whose interest may have been affected as a result of increased electricity at lower cost, Esra Sultan has successfully delivered its full capacity every time the required fuel was supplied by Lebanon. Karpowership sent Esra Sultan to Keserouan, facing the Zouk thermal power plant. It was immediately connected to the network and secured about 200 MW, which significantly increased electricity supply hours in Kesrouan, and some parts of Metn. Residents of these regions noticed this increase with electricity reaching 21 to 24 hours a day. As previously announced, the third Powership was provided free of charge for three months to EDL. Karpowership is committed to execute its existing contractual obligations with the Government of Lebanon and to sustain the Energy Project in accordance with the agreement, providing an electricity capacity of 370 MW through the two powerships Fatmagül Sultan and Orhan Bey in both Zouk and Jiyeh plants at significant savings in the most reliable manner.

Lebanon: Government Expected to See Light Early Next Week
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat./October 18/18/Several indicators are pointing to the imminent birth of the new Lebanese government. The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Lebanese Forces (LF) ended days of mutual boycott through a meeting on Wednesday between Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil and Information Minister Melhem Riachi. Several nodes that were hindering the government’s formation have been resolved, according to well-informed ministerial sources, who told Asharq Al-Awsat that the final touches were made and that the new Cabinet would be announced at the end of this week or early next week at the latest, upon the return of Speaker Nabih Berri from Geneva. On the other hand, the sources talked about the emergence of a new node, represented by the demand of Berri’s bloc to acquire the ministry of social affairs, which is regarded as a “semi-key portfolio”, in addition to the finance ministry. The sources noted in this regard that this request could be resolved quickly by a last-minute exchange of portfolios. President Michel Aoun on Wednesday followed up on the ongoing efforts aimed at finalizing the formation of the new government. “The government file is a top priority now,” Aoun told his visitors as reported by the NNA, hoping “the new Cabinet will be formed in the nearest time possible to face the various challenges, on top of which the economy.”Berri expressed his optimism towards the imminent formation of the government. In remarks from Geneva, he said: “I cannot say that the formation process has been finalized, but I can say that progress is happening in leaps and bounds.”Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt, for his part, emphasized that accelerating the formation of the government was “more than necessary because the economic situation is above all considerations.”
Aoun: Government Lineup is Imminent
Naharnet/October 18/18/President Michel Aoun affirmed on Thursday that the formation of Lebanon’s government has become imminent, telling reporters “it is just round the corner.”In remarks he made at Baabda Palace while taking a stroll around the garden of the Presidential Palace, he delivered the good news to reporters saying: “The government is round the corner.”Signs of a breakthrough regarding the formation process emerged on Wednesday, as the obstacles hampering the process started easing. A major Christian representation six-month gridlock between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement took a new "positive" turn. PM-desigante Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a government on May 24, but his mission has been since delayed because of disagreements between political parties over shares and portfolios. However, the obstacles seem to have started easing amid expectations that the formation process will come to fruition.

Report: Breakthrough in Govt. Lineup Looms as Obstacles Ease

Naharnet/October 18/18/Signs of a breakthrough in the government formation started to emerge, most importantly is the end of a “political breakup” between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement after Wednesday’s meeting between FPM chief Jebran Bassil and LF Minister Melhem Riachi, Ashraq al-Awsat daily reported Thursday. Sources well-informed about the consultations told the daily that the “final touches” are being made, and the government formation is expected to be announced later this week or at the beginning of next week at the latest, after Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri returns from Geneva. However, they pointed to some minor “emergency” obstacles that emerged in the last 24 hours, ensuring that it was “solvable.”Besides the finance ministry portfolio, Speaker Nabih Berri wants to be allocated the social affairs portfolios. Armenian parties demand the allocation of two ministerial seats and refuse to give up one of the them in favor of the minorities, the sources explained. But they assured that the newly emerging problems can be resolved. As for the Lebanese Forces demand to get the justice ministry portfolio -which the FPM also wants to allocate- they said an agreement on this would clarify the final “government map.” “Consultations are still ongoing. A final decision has not been reached yet,” said LF sources to the daily, emphasizing that positive atmospheres prevail. They said the meeting yesterday between Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Riachi has ended the political rift between the two against the backdrop of the ministerial quotas. Positive signals towards the near formation of the government continued Wednesday. The Presidency media office said President Michel Aoun was following closely on the progress, and has stressed the need to lineup a government to face the challenges ahead.

Franjieh: We Won't Join Govt. without Public Works Portfolio
Naharnet/October 18/18/Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh announced Thursday that his bloc will not accept to join the new government if it does not get the public works portfolio. “We want the public works portfolio or the energy portfolio or else we won't take part in the government and will join the opposition without practicing obstruction,” Franjieh said in an interview on MTV. “The public works ministry will be allocated to the National Bloc and I'm not against its allocation to a Sunni minister” from the bloc, Franjieh added, referring to a Marada-led bloc which comprises Sunni MPs. Noting that “80% of the obstacles have not been resolved” despite Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's optimism, Franjieh said he doubts the government will be formed “without a representative of independent Sunnis.”In an apparent jab at caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, the Marada chief lamented that “there is a minister who is trying to decide on behalf of the president and the PM-designate.”“There are attempts to confine us and they invented a battle over the public works ministry which we were not seeking and it involved an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the public works minister,” Franjieh went on to say. “I do not have a problem with President (Michel) Aoun or Minister Bassil and the problem was raised against us. We do not consider ourselves to be in a confrontation with President Aoun,” the Marada leader however noted.
He added: “My allies have not and will not abandon me... (Hizbullah chief) Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah did not abandon me, even in my presidential nomination, and we were in full coordination back then, and today in the government formation process we are coordinating all details.”Franjieh also pointed out that he does not want to “become president” if that requires him to “renounce” his principles.
Armenian Parties Insist on Two Ministers in New Govt.
Naharnet/October 18/18/Lebanon's Armenian political parties held a meeting Thursday at the Orthodox Armenian Archbishopric to discuss reports suggesting that the Armenian community will be represented by one rather than two ministers in the new government. In a statement, the conferees from the Tashnag Party, the Hunchak Party and the Ramgavar Party welcomed the efforts that are being exerted to form the cabinet, hoping the new drive will “lead to a government that would pull the country out of its political crisis.” They however stressed “the importance of consensus among the political parties and the need to preserve confessional balances in the formation of the government and to respect the norms stipulated by the Taef Accord.”Commenting on reports saying the Armenian community will only be represented by one minister and that the second seat would go to minority religious communities, the conferees underlined their insistence on “the right of the community to be represented by two ministers,” while emphasizing their “ultimate support for the representation of minorities in the government with one minister, but not at the expense of the Armenian community.”

Geagea Reassured on LF's Govt. Share, Denies Obstructing Aoun's Tenure
Naharnet/October 18/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea boasted Thursday that the LF will eventually obtain all its demands regarding its share in the new government. Noting that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is keen on the LF's participation in the cabinet, Geagea told Free Lebanon Radio that “the consultations will continue to resolve the pending points and form the government as soon as possible.”“He who laughs last, laughs best. Upon the formation of the government, we are ready to make a comparison between what we had been calling for and what others had been calling for,” the LF leader added, noting that certain parties have been seeking to block his party's demands. Asked whether an agreement has been reached with Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil regarding the type of portfolios that the LF will get in the new government, Geagea said “this has not happened and the meeting with Minister Bassil came to put an end to the explosive atmosphere that was affecting the reconciliation and the Maarab Agreement.”Geagea also emphasized that the LF has not been trying to “obstruct” President Michel Aoun's tenure. “We have never sought, even for a single moment, to obstruct the presidential tenure. We rather have certain principles and approach that govern all our moves and steps,” the LF leader said. “We consider this tenure to be our tenure and therefore everything we've been doing is aimed at making it the most successful in Lebanon's history,” Geagea added.

Hariri Receives Sweden Crown Princess Victoria
Naharnet/October 18/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received Wednesday evening at the Center House Sweden Crown Princess Victoria, her spouse Daniel and the accompanying delegation, Hariri’s media office said. They held a meeting in the presence of ministers Jean Oghasapian, Marwan Hamadeh, Ghattas Khoury, and Pierre Bou Assi, MP Dima Jamali, and Lebanon’s Ambassador to Sweden Hassan Saleh. From the Swedish side, the participants were the Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Lena Hallengren, the Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon Jörgen Lindström and the accompanying delegation. Discussions focused on the bilateral relations and the situation in Lebanon and the region. Hariri held a dinner in honor of Princess Victoria and her husband that was attended by the members of the two delegations.

Two Killed, Several Wounded in Water Tank Explosion in Nabatieh
Naharnet/October 18/18/Two individuals have died and more than sixteen were wounded when a hot water tank exploded in the southern town of Nabatieh, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. NNA said the explosion took place at a sweets factory that killed a woman. A man sustaining serious injuries had succumbed to his wounds after he was taken to hospital. The blast set a fire at the factory and damaged nearby shops and vehicles. Security forces opened investigations into the incident.

Swedish Princess Victoria Tours Palestinian Refugee Camp, Meets UNRWA

Naharnet/October 18/18/Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria, accompanied by the Swedish Minister of the Elderly and Social Affairs, and the Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon, Jurgen Lindstrom, toured the neighborhoods of Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp where she was briefed on the “dire situation of the residents,” the National News Agency reported Thursday. At the camp, Princess Victoria was received by Director-General of the UNRWA, Claudio Cordone. The visit was preceded by a tour for a Swedish press delegation around the camp to take photographs of the living conditions in which the refugees live. The Princess and the accompanying delegation then went to UNRWA's Yarmouk Primary School in the camp, where she received praise for her sympathy for the UNRWA cause. The Princess had arrived in Beirut on Wednesday. She met with President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri.

Lebanon: Palestinian Weapons Fuel Factional Conflicts
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat./October 18/18/Bloody clashes that took place in the Mieh Mieh refugee camp in south Lebanon last week showed that Ain al-Hilweh camp, which is located in the same area, is not the only security spot that could explode at any moment threatening neighboring towns and cities. Despite a Lebanese decision adopted in 2006 after the first national dialogue session between the country’s leaders, who decided to withdraw arms from the Palestinian groups stationed outside the camps; and despite the affirmation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to Lebanon last year, that weapons should be removed from the camps and beyond, the Lebanese government has failed to adopt any practical measures to this end. Perhaps the only step taken by the Lebanese government in its efforts to organize the Palestinian presence in Lebanon was last year, when it conducted a general census of the population and houses in the Palestinian camps and gatherings in Lebanon, supervised by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee and carried out by the Lebanese Central Bureau of Statistics and the Palestinian Central Statistics Body.
The census concluded that there were 174,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon living in 12 camps and 156 communities in the five Lebanese governorates, knowing that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) conducted a census some nine years ago, which confirmed the presence of more than 483,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, 449,000 of whom are registered with the agency. UNRWA continues to confirm this number through its official website. Hamas Representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka underlined the need for increasing the level of Lebanese-Palestinian coordination, revising security policies, and establishing new controls to maintain camps’ security. “The issue of refugees is a target for the US administration and the Zionist entity; so there are always those who seek to exaggerate any security problem in the camps to serve foreign agendas… This requires a lot of vigilance and caution in dealing with all files related to the camps,” he stated. Sources in the Fatah movement are more receptive to new security measures, in which by Lebanese state and army are key partners. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the sources emphasized that the Palestinian refugees, who live below poverty line, have the main concerns that are security and safety since they are deprived of the majority of rights, especially the right to work in most professions.
Joint security committees, including representatives of the most prominent Palestinian factions, control the security in Ain el-Hilweh, Beddawi and Burj al-Barajneh - the largest Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. The Lebanese army and security forces are not present in 12 Palestinian camps across the Lebanese territories, resulting in the escape of a large number of wanted persons into these camps and the proliferation of weapons. The head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, former minister Hassan Mneimneh, said there was no solution to the repeated security events in the camps except through the removal of Palestinian weapons. “The Palestinian president himself acknowledged that these weapons should be removed and that the Lebanese army should enter the camps, but the Lebanese state has not taken any practical steps in this regard,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Lebanon votes against international gay rights bill
Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 18/18/BEIRUT: Lebanon has voted against a resolution seeking to preserve the rights of the LGBTQ community at the 139th assembly of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland, in line with the rest of the Muslim and African nations. The bill, titled "the role of Parliaments in ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and ensuring respect for the human rights of LGBT persons" was struck down after 689 MPs voted against the proposal. Speaker Nabih Berri headed the Lebanese delegation and reportedly played an active role in rallying support for the opposition. Uganda, the ultra-conservative Christian country, led the charge against the bill in defense of "its Christian values." They were supported by delegates mainly from China, Russia, African and Arabic nations.
Army: Lebanese side held onto sovereignty during tripartite meeting in Ras Naqoura
Thu 18 Oct 2018/NNA - The Lebanese army indicated in a communiqué on Thursday that a tripartite meeting was held today in Ras Naqoura under the chairmanship of UNICIL Commander, General Stefano Del Col. "During the meeting, the Lebanese side expressed the position of the Lebanese government which holds onto Lebanon's sovereignty over its territories, maritime waters and oil resources," the communiqué said. "The Lebanese side also broached the enemy's air, maritime, and land violations of Lebanon as well as the repeated provocations, calling to cease them," it added. "The Lebanese side called for the withdrawal from Shebaa farms, Kfarshouba heights, and al-Ghajar town," it concluded.

Army Commander meets Finnish Ambassador
Thu 18 Oct 2018/NNA - Lebanese army chief, General Joseph Aoun, met at his Yarze office on Thursday, with Finnish Ambassador to Lebanon, Tarja Fernandez, who came accompanied by Commander of the UNIFIL'S Finnish Contingency, Lieutenant Colonel Marko Hirsimaki.
Talks reportedly touched on the current general situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.
Report Details Annual Salaries of Lebanese Officials 18th October 2018/A few days after the Kataeb parliamentary bloc submitted a draft law suggesting that the lawmakers' lifelong salaries and compensations would be cut off, Annahar newspaper published a report detailing how much Lebanon's officials are paid. The Parliament speaker and prime minister receive LBP 17,737,000 ($11,824) a month.Ministers and lawmakers get a monthly salary of LBP 12,937,000 ($8,624) and LBP 12,757,000 ($8,504), respectively. Thus, the total yearly salaries of 158 officials reach LBP 41.8 billion ($27.8 million). Moreover, an amount of LBP 58.3 billion ($38.8 million) is paid as yearly salaries for former presidents (Amine Gemayel, Emile Lahoud, and Michel Sleiman), former Parliament Speaker Hassan al-Husseini, former Prime Ministers (Salim Hoss, Najib Mikati, Fouad Sanioura and Tamam Salam) along with 305 former lawmakers.
This sum also includes the lifelong salaries of 4 deceased presidents (Suleiman Frangieh, Bachir Gemayel, Rene Mouawad and Elias Hrawi), 4 deceased prime ministers (Rachid Al-Solh, Rafik Hariri and Omar Karami) and 109 deceased lawmakers. Accordingly, the total salaries of current and former presidents, ministers, and lawmakers reach LBP 107.7 billion ($ 71.8 million) per year. Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Tuesday said that the presented draft suggests that a lawmaker would get 75% of his salary during a period of only one year after his mandate ends; he would stop getting anything after that period. Gemayel explained that the one year period is aimed at giving the outgoing lawmaker some time to restore his professional life and to reintegrate in the labor market. Gemayel stressed that such a move would be the first step towards austerity, adding that it is time to enforce measures that would help ending squandering and reducing unnecessary spending. "What is important is to ease the burden weighing on the state treasury,” Gemayel affirmed. "This proposal would help save LBP 29 billion ($19.3 million) per year. This amount is more than the double of the Industry Ministry's budget," he pointed out.

LF Cabinet portfolio still under review
Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 18/18 /BEIRUT: Despite both the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement making concessions to facilitate the formation of a new government, officials from across the aisle have yet to agree on a final lineup in respect to the LF's portfolio of Cabinet shares.
The LF, which won 15 seats during May's parliamentary elections, lowered its demand to four ministries after being granted the post of deputy prime minister. Sources close to the negotiations process, however, maintained the LF's bid to secure the Justice Ministry, currently occupied by FPM member Salim Jreissati. President Michel Aoun, sources say, expressed his dissatisfaction at this request as he seeks to retain the much-coveted ministry. Meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has reportedly offered the LF the Culture and Social Affairs Ministries to go alongside that of the deputy prime minister.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, LF MP George Adwan argued that "although negotiations are heading in the right direction, a Cabinet will not be formed tomorrow nor on Saturday." A number of elaborate meetings took place between the major political players over the past 48 hours, most notably between caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachy, in an attempt to bridge the divide between the two largest Christian coalitions. Riachi also met with Hariri, whos been handed the arduous task of forming an all-inclusive Cabinet, describing the talks as "positive" while awaiting a "response from the PM." Hariri has been steadfast in granting fair representation to the major political players ever since the current government entered its caretaker mode on May 21. He has also refused to grant veto power to any coalition, the equivalent of over 10 seats in a 30-member Cabinet.
Despite the tug and pull between the FPM and LF, sources close to Bassil told Annahar "that concessions have been made across the board to bring the LF into the fold." This sentiment was echoed by LF chief Samir Geagea, maintaining that the majority of political players "want the LF within the government."
Sources familiar with the negotiations process have alluded to talks going into tomorrow and possibly the weekend in a bid to finally form a Cabinet after almost six months without a fully functioning government.
Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage at Risk From Coastal Flooding and Erosion Due to Sea-Level Rise
Nature Communications/Thursday 18th October 2018
UNESCO World Heritage sites (WHS) located in coastal areas are increasingly at risk from coastal hazards due to sea-level rise. A study published in Nature Communications magazine assessed Mediterranean cultural WHS at risk from coastal flooding and erosion under four sea-level rise scenarios until 2100.
Based on the analysis of spatially explicit WHS data, the study developped an index-based approach that allows for ranking WHS at risk from both coastal hazards.
Results showed that of 49 cultural WHS located in low-lying coastal areas of the Mediterranean, 37 are at risk from a 100-year flood and 42 from coastal erosion, already today.
Until 2100, flood risk may increase by 50% and erosion risk by 13% across the region, with considerably higher increases at individual WHS.
Since 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designates the world’s common heritage under the World Heritage Convention1. The World Heritage List of 2018 comprises a total of 1092 cultural and natural heritage sites, based on their Outstanding Universal Value.
Over 77% of these sites are cultural World Heritage sites (WHS) which have high intangible value as they represent icons of human civilisation. A large share of cultural WHS are located in coastal areas as human activity has traditionally concentrated in these locations.
As the risk of coastal hazards such as flooding and erosion increases with sea-level rise (SLR), a considerable number of coastal WHS will gradually be exposed to these hazards in the future, threatening the OUV of affected sites and potentially leading to losses in economic revenue as WHS are popular tourist destinations.
This is particularly true for the Mediterranean region as several ancient civilisations have developed in the region, resulting in a high concentration of cultural WHS in coastal locations. Adaptation methods and protection standards vary considerably across Mediterranean countries due to large socioeconomic differences between northern, eastern and southern parts of the region, therefore leaving most WHS with limited protection from coastal hazards.
Lebanon's Tyre was found to be the coastal area that is the most exposed to erosion risk which is determined by a WHS’s distance from the coast, the coastal material, mean wave height and sediment supply. Erosion risk is predominantly determined by the distance of a WHS from the coastline.The highest number of WHS at risk can be found in Italy (14), followed by Croatia (7) and Greece (4).
Department of Justice Right to Go after Hezbollah
إيمانويل اوتولنجي/موقع ذا هيل/وزارة العدل الأميركية محقة في ملاحقة حزب الله

Emanuele Ottolenghi/The Hill/October 18/18
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made clear yesterday that Hezbollah is not just an Iranian-backed terrorist organization, but also one of the most dangerous crime syndicates in the world.
In his remarks announcing the creation of a new Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, Sessions identified five criminal groups as America’s “top transnational organized crime threats.” The list includes Hezbollah alongside four Central American cartels known for their brutality, such as MS-13.
Yesterday’s announcement follows the Department of Justice’s decision, almost a year ago, to form a Hezbollah terror finance task force to combat the organization’s illicit financial flows. Yet Hezbollah’s crimes are not just financial; they are an active participant at every stage of the drug supply chain, including — ominously — significant sales to the U.S. market, as a case recently tried in Miami reveals. Thus, the identification of Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization, or TCO, is more than justified.
Over the past fifteen years, Hezbollah’s involvement in transnational organized crime has evolved into a multi-billion dollar global enterprise endorsed and coordinated by the group’s top leaders. Hezbollah’s production and sale of counterfeit medicines such as Captagon — a powerful amphetamine — is well documented. So are its growing involvement in cocaine trafficking, and its extensive and enduring ties with drug cartels.
By including Hezbollah in its new Task Force’s top targets, the Department of Justice is clearly recognizing Hezbollah’s global criminal enterprises as a core element of the terror group’s activities and a threat to U.S. national security. A U.S. strategy to disrupt Hezbollah’s financial flows will now rely not just on sanctions but also on sustained investigations, indictments, arrests, extraditions and convictions that the Justice Department will seek through the work of its newly minted task force.
An important reason for Hezbollah’s growth, especially in Latin America and West Africa, is the presumption of many local officials that terrorism is Washington’s problem, not theirs. The designation of Hezbollah as a TCO, followed by criminal investigations and extradition requests from Washington, will help to clarify that Hezbollah presents precisely the same kind of threat as the cartels.
Law enforcement tools have shown that they can inflict substantial damage on Hezbollah, yet the U.S. has not always had the will to use them. Less than a year ago, a Politico investigation ignited a firestorm by charging that the Obama administration deliberately undermined Project Cassandra, an ambitious effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to stop Hezbollah from trafficking drugs into the United States and Europe.
Project Cassandra’s remarkable achievements included the Lebanese-Canadian Bank investigation, which shut down the bank and led to the 2011 indictment of Hezbollah kingpin Ayman Joumaa, a Lebanese-Colombian dual national who laundered money for Mexican and Colombian cartels to the tune of $200 million a month. A DEA official discussing the case said that Hezbollah operated like “the Gambinos on steroids."
The Politico investigation concluded, however, that the Obama administration shut down Project Cassandra because the aggressive pursuit of an Iranian proxy was at odds with the White House’s overtures to Tehran. DOJ scattered the Project Cassandra team to unrelated assignments. The agency’s strategy against Hezbollah was left in disarray.
The Trump administration has begun to reverse this trend. U.S. efforts to combat Hezbollah’s networks in Latin America have become apparent in recent weeks. Recent cases investigating Hezbollah’s preparations to launch terror attacks against U.S. and Latin American targets show the threat is real and not limited to terror finance. And quiet pressure along with public diplomacy are showing signs that even countries traditionally reluctant to touch Hezbollah’s local networks may be ready to change course.
The Department of Treasury, meanwhile, beefed up its designations efforts against Hezbollah networks in Lebanon and West Africa. This year alone, Treasury has repeatedly targeted Hezbollah financial networks linked to Hezbollah’s financier, Adham Tabaja and his associates. The Attorney General’s description of Hezbollah as a TCO suggests that a formal TCO designation from the U.S. Treasury may soon be coming.
Finally, last week, Congress passed the Hezbollah International Finance Prevention Act Amendment of 2018, which further enhances the toolkit available to the executive to go after not just Hezbollah members but also their financial and political facilitators. The target pool for prosecutions, in other words, just got bigger. Over the years, U.S. sanctions, as well as court cases in the United States and overseas, reveal that Hezbollah-linked operatives have acted as logistics and financial service providers, traffickers, drug barons, distributors, and, more recently, suppliers of precursor chemicals used to refine cocaine.
Hezbollah is inextricably tied to the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations, and is helping them grow more powerful. Naming Hezbollah as a TCO and devoting considerable resources to prosecute its overseas financial networks will now expose organized crime and radical Islamic terrorism’s deadly convergence, and make the fight against Hezbollah’s global terror finance networks more effective.

Human Rights Watch: No Action to Enforce Lebanon's New Waste Law
هيومن رايتس وتش: لم تؤخذ أية إجراءات عملية لتطبيق القانون اللبناني الجديد الخاصبالنفايات

Human rights watch/ Thursday 18th October 2018
Lebanese municipalities are endangering the health of residents by openly burning waste despite the passage of a national solid waste management law banning the practice, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. Following decades of mismanagement of solid waste, Lebanon’s parliament passed the law on September 24, 2018, during the first parliamentary session since elections in May.
Municipalities are flouting the law, which bans open dumping and burning of waste and sets penalties for violations. The law gives the Environment Ministry an oversight and monitoring role and mandates the ministry to develop a national waste management strategy within the next six months.
“Now that parliament has passed the long overdue solid waste management law, the Lebanese government needs to carry it out,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless violators are held accountable, Lebanese will continue to suffer devastating impacts on their health and their environment.”
Lebanon’s waste crisis gained international recognition in 2015, when garbage overflowed in the streets of Beirut. But Lebanon’s mismanagement of its waste, including by burning it at dumps, is decades-old. Human Rights Watch found in a December 2017 report that burning waste at more than 150 open dumps was risking the health of nearby residents. The practice violates Lebanon’s obligations under international law, including the government’s duties to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health.
Human Rights Watch researchers visited two villages in south Lebanon, al-Qantara and Qabrikha, on October 11 and spoke with residents in al-Qantara who had witnessed the open burning of waste in the municipal open dumps in both villages in previous days. Media have reported that the practice continues in other towns and villages across the country.
The dump at Qabrikha was still smoking when Human Rights Watch researchers were on the site and there were clear signs of burning at the al-Qantara dump, including soot from recent burns and ash deposits. Residents said that municipal open dumps in neighboring al-Ghandoriya, Rab Thalatine, and Beni Hayyan were also still burning waste in spite of the new law, but Human Rights Watch was unable to verify these claims through site visits.
One resident said that, despite repeated requests to the head of the Qabrikha municipality about the burning over the past week, the burning persisted. “We got to a point where we can’t sleep anymore,” he said. “It [the Qabrikha dump] is continuously on fire and affecting us…The smell would get stuck in your nose. It’s a problem. My son is 6 years old, he has a cough…Two days ago, when they burned in the morning, you couldn’t see the surrounding towns.”
Scientific studies have documented the dangers that smoke from the open burning of household waste pose to human health. Children and older people are at particular risk.
Human Rights Watch interviewed the deputy head of the Qabrikha municipality, Imad Fahes, on October 12 by phone. Fahes admitted that the municipality was open burning nonrecyclable waste on a monthly basis. He said that while he was aware of the new waste management law and the penalties associated with open dumping and burning of waste, the municipality was waiting for instructions from the Jabal Amel union of municipalities on how to proceed.
“Perhaps we can adopt sanitary landfilling,” he said. “But we need expertise and to know whether it would affect groundwater. There’s also the funding issue…But the principal thing we need is instructions and technical guidance.”
Guidelines to municipalities and unions of municipalities on solid waste management were however already circulated by the Ministry of Environment in November 2017.
Human Rights Watch tried unsuccessfully multiple times to reach the head of the al-Qantara municipality but did interview an employee from the al-Qantara municipality responsible for picking up the waste. He denied that the municipality was burning trash. When researchers told him there was evidence of burning at the dump site, he said this must be from old burning at the site. But visible ash deposits and black soot at the dump, and a noticeable absence of piles of trash, suggested that this was not the case. Residents also said the burning at the al-Qantara site was continuing and one resident provided photos to Human Rights Watch taken on September 24 that appeared to show smoke from the burning of trash at the al-Qantara dump.
The Environment Ministry should urgently begin monitoring compliance with the solid waste management law and ensure that violators are appropriately penalized, Human Rights Watch said. The ministry has set up a complaints process to receive information about environmental offenses like open dumping and burning of trash, including a hotline that residents can call by dialing 1789. The cabinet should consider the ministry’s budget requests to ensure it can carry out monitoring. The government should ensure that everyone in Lebanon who suffers a violation of their right to health through action or failures by state bodies has an effective remedy.
The environmental public prosecutor in each governorate should also be adequately resourced to investigate complaints received from the Environment Ministry and others and ensure that violators are held accountable. The Justice Ministry should publish the names of the environmental public prosecutors in each governorate to facilitate the reporting of violations, Human Rights Watch said.
In January, Human Rights Watch opened a campaign calling on parliament and the cabinet to pass a waste management law and develop a strategy on waste management for the entire country and comply with environmental and public health best practices and international law. Over 12,000 people signed a petition in support of the campaign.
The new law requires the Environment Ministry to establish a national strategy within six months. In January, the cabinet passed a a summary policy on Integrated Solid Waste Management, and the environment minister formed a committee on waste management, which includes a civil society representative.
In keeping with its obligations under the new law, the Ministry of Environment should build on the summary policy by developing a long-term strategy for waste management. It will need to detail plans for reduction, sorting, collection, transfer, storage, processing, and disposal of solid waste in a manner that takes into account the perspectives of the public health and environmental experts and local communities, Human Rights Watch said.
“The next six months present an opportunity for the community to work with the Environment Ministry to build on the summary waste management strategy that was passed in January,” Fakih said. “For the long-term strategy to be effective, it should take into consideration the concerns and expertise of local communities and public health and environmental experts.”
The dump at Qabrikha is adjacent to a recycling facility. Human Rights Watch researchers visited the facility and spoke with an employee there. He said waste that was not recyclable and non-organic was returned to the municipalities whose trash was processed at the facility. He said that Qabrikha municipality moved this waste into the nearby open dump, where he saw them burn it. He said trash at this dump included plastic bags and diapers. Human Rights Watch researchers also observed clothes and other household waste at the dump. Qabrikha is in the Wadi Hujeir Nature Preserve.
Residents could not specify when burning at the dumps began but estimated that it had been going on for years and said that burning in the past week had been particularly intense.
One woman who moved to al-Qantara in May 2017 said the municipalities have been burning the al-Qantara and Qabrikha open dumps since she arrived:
We can’t breathe at night. The smoke builds up and it moves towards us like fog. I can’t recover from the flu…There’s smoke every day. And the smell is strong at night. It’s the smell of nylon, it’s heavy and odd, something you can’t handle. I didn’t see a doctor or pharmacist regarding the symptoms. I take medicine for blood pressure and diabetes, why add to all this? I drink tea with lemon… The maximum I can do is close the windows, what more can I do?... And not just me, others, even my grandsons, they’re always sick.
Another woman, who has lived in al-Qantara for two and a half years with her husband, said:
The smell of trash, the burning, it’s unbearable. Especially the 2-3 days we went through last week…The smell is usually from Qabrikha…The latest incident was 3 or 4 days ago. I woke up at night suffocating. Smoke was filling the house. This is a village. There’s no pollution. Why would we have to wake up feeling like this? It was from Rab Thalatine. I knew because of the direction of the wind, which was from the east...The smoke smelled like trash… The main symptom was difficulty breathing and chest pressure…My husband had a surgery in the lungs. This smoke isn’t good for him. And of course he was irritated. He had difficulty breathing.
An older man also described his symptoms during the trash burning: “The symptoms are usually difficulty breathing. And some symptoms the next day, like black phlegm, from all the polluted air that gets into you. I experience this only when the burning takes place, otherwise no.”

Lebanon and the Iranian takeover
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 18/18
An old Christian Lebanese political group, the Lady of the Mountain Gathering, wanted to hold a meeting in the Bristol Hotel or Rotana Hotel in Beirut to discuss the Lebanese political situation in light of the severe crisis stemming from the difficulty in the formation of a new government following the elections.
They also wanted to discuss the poor economic conditions of the country and the prevailing corruption and various conflicts within the state administration. However, the management of both hotels refused to give permission for convening of the meeting.
Hezbollah’s harassment
It is said that the hotels refused because the title for the meeting, given by the gathering coordinator Dr. Fares Souaid, made Hezbollah angry. The title read: “The national battle for lifting Iranian guardianship of the national decision, defend the constitution and maintain coexistence.”
When it was announced that the hotels rejected holding the meeting because of Hezbollah’s interference, several parties came out in support of the Lady of the Mountain Gathering, and they held a meeting in solidarity with it at the Kataeb Party headquarters. The meeting was attended by the Kataeb and National Liberal party leaders, along with Lebanese political figures, civil organizations and a large crowd. The unrest among Lebanese political, economic and social elites has been trying to manifest itself in various ways since the election of General Aoun as the president two and-a-half years ago. It should be noted that the president was imposed by Hezbollah after almost three years of presidential vacuum when the war in Syria was raging and while terrorism ran amok in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other places. In light of the “settlement” which everyone talked about, a law was enacted for the elections which were thus held in a way that made Hezbollah and the new president dominate in parliament. Due to the commitment of the old, and one who is also the new, prime minister to the “settlement” regulations, he became the weakest political partner among the alliance between the president and Hezbollah – an alliance which brought the politicians and the parliament under its sway and that is almost in full control of all state institutions and administrations. The core of the crisis in Lebanon is the power grab that creates paralysis. This issue was discussed in the solidarity meeting as Kataeb Party Leader and Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel said that this “philosophy” of takeover is led and reflected by the president and it conveys that the Lebanese people cannot resist the takeover of this armed group, hence they must submit to its terms, wait until the Middle East crisis ends and look for solutions in other “directions”
The core of the crisis in Lebanon is the power grab that creates paralysis. This issue was discussed in the solidarity meeting as Kataeb Party Leader and Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel said that this “philosophy” of takeover is led and reflected by the president and it conveys that the Lebanese people cannot resist the takeover of this armed group, hence they must submit to its terms, wait until the Middle East crisis ends and look for solutions in other “directions”. However, these directions have so far been limited to going far in controlling state institutions, violating the Taif Agreement and the constitution and creating more sectarian and political divisions.
Worse than ever
The Lady of the Mountain Gathering is thus trying to open a window in the wall of this incapacitating crisis so it went ahead to address the real reasons for the crisis, instead of addressing false pretexts, like many have been doing. Due to Hezbollah’s control over the political and military authority in Lebanon, the country has become isolated from Arab countries and the world especially that Hezbollah does not only spread sectarianism and make threats internally, but also violates international resolutions that protect Lebanon. Iranians brazenly declare that they have taken control of four Arab capitals, including Beirut. Hezbollah boasts of its missiles directed towards Israel while the latter responds by specifying these missiles’ locations around the Beirut airport. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, the president’s son-in-law, goes around with diplomats around the airport, under media coverage to show that Israeli claims are lies even though they are not denied by Hezbollah!
In Lebanon, there are no significant industrial sectors. The banking sector, however, is the major one and most of its revenues are generated from Lebanese remittances coming from abroad. So how would tourists and the Lebanese people come to Lebanon amid controversy over security issues at the airport and the country? Why would foreigners invest in Lebanon and why would Lebanese people even transfer their money to their country’s banks as long as the security and political conditions are as such and as long as crises and the prospects of war besiege the country?!
The situation has never been so bad, nor have people been as pessimistic as they are now. It is as if we are on the eve of occupying Beirut in 2008. The difference is that those who opposed the possession of illegal weapons were more optimistic and active back then, while today there is a state of clear paralysis and greater division. There is no way out of the crisis in Lebanon except by ending the takeover of missiles and armed militias. The only way to do this is to work toward restoring the state’s sovereignty and institutions and freedom of thought and expression.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 18-19/18
Casualties as Gunman Opens Fire on Afghan-U.S. Security Meeting
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/An Afghan security chief and a journalist were killed and three Americans wounded Thursday when a gunman opened fire on a high-level security meeting attended by top U.S. commander General Scott Miller, officials said. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack in the southern city of Kandahar that comes two days before Afghanistan's parliamentary elections that the militant group has vowed to disrupt. Security forces swarmed the city after the attack at the provincial governor's office where the senior Afghan and foreign officials had gathered, witnesses told AFP. The Taliban said General Abdul Raziq, the powerful police chief of Kandahar province with a fierce reputation for brutality, was the target of the shooting. Raziq was killed and six of his bodyguards wounded, a provincial security official told AFP on condition of anonymity."The shooting happened as they were leaving the meeting," the official said, adding two members of Afghanistan's spy agency also were injured. Miller was not hurt in the shooting, NATO's Resolute Support mission spokesman Colonel Knut Peters said in a statement. Three Americans, including a soldier, civilian and contractor, were wounded in the cross-fire and had been evacuated from the scene. "Initial reports indicate this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident," Peters said. "We are being told the area is secure." A hospital official told AFP that several senior officials had been brought to the medical facility, but they would not provide further details.Another witness said the city was "full of military forces.". "They don't allow anyone to come out of their houses," he told AFP. Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed legislative elections, scheduled for October 20, after the Taliban pledged to attack the ballot. More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house, including doctors, mullahs, and the sons of former warlords. The election process has already been marred by bloody violence, with hundreds killed or wounded in recent months. At least 10 candidates have been killed so far, including Abdul Jabar Qahraman who was blown up Wednesday by a bomb placed under his sofa in the southern province of Helmand. The election is seen as a rehearsal for the presidential vote scheduled for April and an important milestone ahead of a U.N. meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes."
Iran Rejects US Sanctions on IRGC’s Basij
London- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 18 October, 2018/Iran rejected the newly imposed US sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' Basij forces and a "wide financial network", describing the act as a “blind vindictiveness”. “America's new sanctions are a clear insult to international and legal mechanisms and a result of the American government's blind vindictiveness against the Iranian nation," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.
He called Washington's "lack of adherence to international legal mechanisms" a threat not only "to the Iranian people's interests but also the world's stability and security." The US Treasury Department slapped Tuesday sanctions on the Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were financing it, as part of Washington's campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran. The Treasury also added that among other “malign activities, the IRGC’s Basij militia recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.”“This is another important part of our campaign to exert maximum financial pressure on the Iranian regime, which will continue until it stops its criminal and evil behavior," said a US official. On November 4, the second US sanctions package, which targets oil exports and financial transactions with Iran, will enter into force. The US administration has announced its intention to double its pressure on Iran through sanctions that will be "the strongest in history" and take further action on issues other than nuclear. The latest sanctions targeted Basij forces from the five core Revolutionary Guards and the Cooperative Foundation, which, according to the Treasury Department, "is comprised of at least 20 corporations and financial institutions,” including Mellat Bank. Among the companies that have been sanctioned was Iran’s biggest steel company, Mobarakeh Steel Company, which dismissed the measures as “nothing new,” saying they will not affect its operations.
In a statement to investors, Mobarakeh said: “International sanctions are nothing new and Mobarakeh has faced them throughout the years just like other sectors of the Iranian economy.”"This will not disrupt the company’s production, financial activities, and exports,” it asserted. A steel industry expert in Tehran said the sanctions would hurt Mobarakeh, but without entirely stopping its exports. The Treasury said, “the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region [Mobarakeh] is used as a revenue stream for Bonyad Taavon Basij’s economic conglomerate.”The statement added that the company has provided millions of dollars each year to Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Company, an entity with close ties to the Basij and its Bonyad Taavon Basij. “The IRGC is pervasive within the Iranian economy,” a senior administration official said, adding “this is precisely the kind of activity that we have warned other companies and governments about extensively.” European countries, China and Russia are seeking to maintain Iran's nuclear deal.The EU is working on a mechanism to enable Iran to continue selling oil without US sanctions affecting the buyers, but it is difficult to assess its effectiveness.
So it was nice that last week Preet Bharara, the former US attorney who prosecuted the Newman case, and Robert Jackson, an SEC commissioner, proposed a new panel to figure out what insider trading law should be and write it down:
The law can be updated and made clearer. Ideally, Congress would take the lead. But bipartisan proposals to update the law have languished for years. The S.E.C., however, does have the authority to clarify insider trading law. The commission should use that authority before the next wave of corporate abuses. That’s why we are announcing the creation of the Bharara Task Force on Insider Trading, a panel of experts that will propose new insider trading reforms to protect American investors. In principle this is a good thing: If insider trading is a crime, there should be a law that says that it’s a crime, and that defines what it is. Then everyone can know what is legal and what isn’t. Good. On Friday, the task force sent out an email announcement of its list of members. 1) Of the eight names, five are former federal prosecutors (four in the Southern District of New York) and one is a former SEC enforcement lawyer. The other two are law professors. None are securities analysts, or hedge-fund managers, or mutual-fund managers, or corporate lawyers, or public-company chief financial officers. None are users of the capital markets. 2) None are investors whose job is talking to companies, or corporate executives whose job is talking to investors, or short sellers whose job is discovering fraud, or activists whose job is to influence corporate actions, or compliance lawyers whose job is figuring out what sorts of conversations are allowed. This strikes me as a strange way to figure out insider trading. It seems to me that insider trading law is primarily about the design and structure of the capital markets: How are people supposed to get information? When can companies talk to their shareholders and what can they say? What research methods add to the market’s efficiency, and what methods undermine confidence in the markets? If those are the questions you are interested in, it seems weird to answer them with a committee of prosecutors. You might want one prosecutor on the committee, for practical advice about how investigations and trials work. But most of the committee should spend its time thinking about capital markets, not about criminal litigation.
The alternative view is that insider trading law is primarily about punishing crime, that talking to companies is as straightforward and clear-cut a crime as, you know, murder, and that the important thing is to write it down in a way that makes it as easy as possible to put people in prison for it. If that’s your goal then you want a lot of prosecutors to make sure you’ve covered all the ways people might get out of prison, and no one else—because what else is there to think about? I don’t want to exaggerate these differences. Most insider trading cases do look mostly like straightforward crimes! When a corporate chief executive officer tips his golf buddy about an upcoming merger, that probably doesn’t add much to society’s stock of knowledge about the world; it seems like the sort of straightforward corruption that ought to be punished whether or not the golf buddy hands the CEO a sack of cash in exchange for the tip. You can see why a committee of prosecutors would want to streamline the prosecution of cases like that.
But most of the controversy in insider trading law is not about those straightforward cases. Instead it is about the boundaries of legitimate research, about expert networks and political intelligence and corporate investor relations. The Newman case was not about a CEO tipping his golf buddy off about a merger. It was a case of hedge-fund managers who, as part of their “extensive research” and “in-depth knowledge of the relevant industry,” talked to people who talked to people who talked to an investor-relations employee of a public company who gave out some information about margins that prosecutors thought was too good. The questions there—How can analysts interact with the companies they own? What information is too good to trade on? What sorts of research are off-limits? When are investors responsible for the misconduct of their sources?—are hard, and they really are questions of capital-markets design rather than prosecutorial tactics. If there was an obvious consensus on what should be illegal, then it would make sense to get together a team of prosecutors to figure out how to punish it. But I’m not sure that’s the case.

UN’s Special Rapporteur in Iran Calls for ‘Transparent’ Probe into Death of Protesters
New York - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 18 October, 2018/UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran Javaid Rehman urged Iranian authorities to hold an independent and transparent investigation into the reported deaths in custody and other incidents leading to alleged violations of rights that took place during and after the protests of December 2017 and January 2018. Rehman expressed his “grave concerns” at the continuing execution of juvenile offenders in Iran and called upon the government to immediately prohibit all executions of persons charged of offenses committed below the age of 18. He further recommended that "the government abolish the death penalty in all cases and suspend it until such action is taken". The Special Rapporteur stressed that he intends to develop a constructive dialogue with the Iranian government "to facilitate the implementation of his mandate". He highlighted a number of issues of concern that are being continuously documented, including "violations of the right to life, particularly the execution of juvenile offenders; the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment; the right to freedom of assembly, opinion and expression; and the rights of women and girls, as well as of religious and ethnic minorities, and represent areas in which the Special Rapporteur intends to seek further detailed information.” Based on his preliminary analysis, Rehman identified a number of areas which he presently intends to address, including but not limited to violations of economic, social and cultural rights, the situation of human rights defenders, the situation of foreign and dual nationals, the alleged 1988 summary executions, as well as groups rights, in particular those based upon disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.The Special Rapporteur reiterated previous calls of his predecessor and the UN Secretary-General that all those arrested for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly, opinion, and expression are released, including those arrested during the December 2017 and January 2018 protests in this context.He appealed to the Iranian government to "conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the reported cases of death during detention and other incidents that led to alleged rights violations during and after the protests." Rehman called for abolition of all laws and policies that criminalize or restrict the freedom of online expression, indicating that online content should be only restricted by an independent and impartial judicial orders. He also called on the government to "ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment", urging it to issue laws that prohibit flogging and amputations as a punishment because they violate articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).He also called for "the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the prohibition of all forms of discrimination against women, both in law and practice.

Russia and Turkey give more time for Idlib deal in Syria - UN
Agencies, GenevaThursday, 18 October 2018/Russia and Turkey plan to give more time for the implementation of their de-escalation deal in the Syrian province of Idlib, a “great relief” for an area of 3 million civilians, UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told reporters on Thursday.
Speaking after a regular Syria humanitarian meeting in Geneva, he also said Russia told the meeting that Syria had withdrawn its controversial Law 10, which allowed expropriation of land and property from refugees. A Russian diplomat told the meeting that any reference to the law being in effect was a mistake, Egeland said. Egeland said there will be a new team when UN envoy De Mistura leaves in November, Egeland says he will also leave at the end of November.

Russia negotiates deal with ISIS to release abducted women in Syria’s Sweida
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 18 October 2018/ and enlisting them in compulsory conscription in return for the release of abducted women that are held by the extremist group. Sweida residents are awaiting the results of these negotiations over the release of Druze women and children kidnapped by the terrorist group on July 25, after a series of coordinated attacks in the southern province of Sweida that killed more than 250 people, mostly civilians. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, anticipation is very high in the province, where many are saying that the release of the abductees is expected to happen the coming hours. Sweida residents, who are mostly a Druze religious minority, have been in fierce opposition of the Syrian war, as many of their youth serve in the army. Russian news agency Sputnik revealed another deal between the Assad regime’s forces and ISIS to release six of the abductees, in exchange for 17 ISIS members detained by the regime, without specifying the date for the implementation of the agreement. These deals come 24 hours after the signing of the first ceasefire agreement in Tulul al-Safa, a mountainous region in eastern Sweida. On July 25, ISIS carried out a series of coordinated attacks in the southern province of Sweida that killed more than 250 people, mostly civilians.It was the deadliest attack ever to target the mostly government-held province and the Druze religious minority that populates it.

Head of U.N. Humanitarian Taskforce for Syria to Step Down
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/A day after the U.N. envoy for Syria announced his planned departure, the head of the humanitarian taskforce for the war-ravaged country said Thursday he would also resign next month. "I am also leaving at the end of November," Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva.His comment came after the U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, announced Wednesday that he will step down at the end of next month after more than four years in the key post. The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who is the U.N.'s third Syria envoy in six years, said he was leaving for "purely personal reasons," citing the need to give his family "a little bit of attention" after a long stint in the demanding post. And Egeland insisted Thursday that he had already decided when his contract was renewed last month that he would leave at the end of November, and that it was "a coincidence" that he and de Mistura were stepping down at the same time. He said his three years in the job had been "very exhausting", especially since he also has a full-time job as head of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Both men are leaving as U.N. efforts to end the seven-year war show no sign of a breakthrough.
Job 'not half done'
More than 360,000 people have died in Syria's war, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but has morphed into a complex conflict with myriad armed groups, some of whom are foreign-backed. "I presume I will be replaced by somebody better and that they will continue with the task force because the job is not even half done," Egeland said. He nonetheless hailed a few positive developments in Syria that had been discussed by countries at a taskforce meeting Thursday, including the success so far of a Russian-Turkish deal to create calm around Syria's last rebel stronghold, Idlib."It is a welcome calm," he said. But overall, Egeland lamented that over the three years he has headed the humanitarian taskforce for Syria, "there has been too many setbacks, we have failed more often than we have achieved what we wanted." De Mistura also acknowledged Wednesday that the U.N.'s job in Syria was far from over, and vowed not to lay "down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate." But his departure will complicate U.N. peace efforts at a time when Syrian forces have made significant territorial gains, prompting discussion about the terms of a political settlement to end the war. De Mistura will be traveling to Damascus next week to push for the creation of a committee to agree on a post-war constitution for Syria that would pave the way to elections. That plan has been under discussion since January when it was announced at a conference organized by Russia, a key Syrian ally, but it has since been bogged down in bickering over the committee's composition. But de Mistura said Wednesday he hoped the committee will be up and running in November, before he leaves.

Iraq: Abdul Mahdi Determined to Present New Line-up Next Week
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 18 October, 2018/Iraq’s prime minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Wednesday he would present a new cabinet line-up to the parliament for approval next week.
“The prime minister-designate... is carrying out the necessary communications with the head of parliament and the blocs to set a day” to present the cabinet, his office said in a statement on Facebook and Twitter. The new cabinet is expected to include between 22 and 23 portfolios, with 70 percent allocated under political consensus and 30 percent for technocrats.On the other hand, well-informed Iraqi political sources said that Sunni-Shiite differences have emerged over the number of ministries obtained by each component. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “Sunni Arabs have not yet submitted their candidates for ministerial positions despite the expiry of the deadline” on Wednesday. They underlined “signs of dissatisfaction with the allocation of ministries”, pointing to the possible adoption of the quotas formula, which was implemented by the Governing Council established by Civil Administrator Paul Bremer after the occupation of Iraq. The formula instituted by Bremer divided cabinet members on the basis of sectarian and ethnic quotas, under which the Shiites are allocated 13 ministries, the Sunni Arabs 5 ministries, the Kurds 3 and one ministry for the minorities. A well-informed political expert told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sunnis were seeking to have six ministries instead of five, “and prefer the oil ministry rather than the defense, because the Sunni defense minister is usually deprived of his powers.”Meanwhile, the ministry of justice announced the issuance of presidential decrees, which appointed Barham Ahmed Saleh as president of the Republic of Iraq and referred Former President Fuad Masoum to retirement. Other presidential decrees also referred to retirement Vice Presidents Nuri al-Maliki, Iyad Allawi and Osama Nujaifi. In this context, Legal Expert Ahmed al-Abbadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the recent decrees were procedural and were issued following every change of power.
UN Syria Envoy to Try to Move on Constitution before Leaving
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 18/18/U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura said Wednesday that he will make a final effort before stepping down next month to advance toward a new constitution for Syria — a key step in ending the country's civil war.
De Mistura announced at the end of a Security Council briefing that he is leaving the job in late November for "purely, purely personal reasons" related to his family after four years and four months in one of the toughest U.N. jobs. He told council members that objections by the Syrian government are still holding up the launch of the committee meant to draft a new constitution. While there is agreement on the 50-member government and opposition delegations for the drafting committee, de Mistura said the government objects to a third 50-member delegation that the U.N. put together representing Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women. De Mistura said he has been invited to Damascus next week to discuss the committee's formation. He said he also intends to invite senior officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran — the guarantor states in the so-called "Astana process" aimed at ending the violence in Syria — to meet him in Geneva, and to talk to a group of key countries comprising Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the United States. "I would hope then to be in a position to issue invitations to convene the constitutional committee, hopefully during November," de Mistura said. "I offer no predictions whether this is possible. What I do know is that after nine months of preparations it is important to launch a credible, constitutional committee."The U.N. envoy indicated he still faces an uphill struggle. During last month's high-level General Assembly meeting, he said, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem "strongly cast doubt" on the agreement to draft a new constitution that was reached in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Jan. 30. Al-Moallem called for a "fundamental reassessment" of the 50-member delegation the U.N. was authorized to put together as well as the rules of procedure and U.N.'s role as the facilitator, de Mistura said.
Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, have also called that list into question but are continuing talks, de Mistura said. He said senior Russian officials would be in Damascus in a few days. The U.N. sought to balance its list "so that no political side could dominate the committee," de Mistura said, but the Syrian government reportedly wants its supporters to dominate the U.N. list so its views will prevail in constitutional changes or a new document. Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, stressed the government's opposition to a new constitution, telling the Security Council on Wednesday that the mandate of the constitutional committee must be "to renew the current constitution — current constitution — because we do not want a constitutional vacuum, because Syria is not a failed state.""We stress that the mandate of the committee is limited to reviewing the articles of the current constitution through a Syria-led and Syria-owned process," he said. De Mistura has been trying since February to set up a constitutional committee as a key step toward elections and a political settlement to the more than seven-year Syrian conflict that has killed over 300,000 people. An agreement reached at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on Sept. 17, aimed at averting an expected Syrian military offensive in the last rebel stronghold in Idlib, opened the possibility of progress. De Mistura told the council "a catastrophe has so far been averted in Idlib" following the Russia-Turkey agreement, and "major strides have been taken in defeating terrorism." He echoed Putin and Erdogan, who said the Idlib deal offered "a window for the constitutional committee to be established and the political process to go ahead." Eight European Union countries called on Russia, Iran and Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, to ensure that the Idlib cease-fire is upheld. In a joint statement, they said it "should be an opportunity for the urgent resumption of the U.N.-led political process in Geneva." The EU nations — France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Britain, Italy, Belgium and Germany — gave "full support" to de Mistura's efforts to establish an inclusive constitutional committee "without any further delays" that includes at least 30 percent women to lay the groundwork "for free and fair U.N.-supervised elections" called for by the Security Council. Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia responded to de Mistura's call for a November meeting and to the EU saying Moscow wants a constitutional committee to be formed "as quickly as possible, but setting artificial deadlines in this case would be counterproductive.""There has to be agreement of all the parties and that takes time," Nebenzia said. Syria's Ja'afari not only reiterated the government's new conditions for establishing the committee but told the council that Idlib, "just like any region in Syria, will return very soon to the sovereignty of the Syrian state." He didn't elaborate, but several Security Council nations worried aloud that a government offensive could still take place. Ja'afari also warned that in order to achieve durable peace, "all illegal foreign forces must leave Syria, including Turkish, American, British, French and Israeli forces." De Mistura was asked about his repeated statements that there can be no military solution in Syria despite the government's success in recapturing most territory in the country. "What matters is winning the peace," de Mistura replied. "And therefore it is so important to make sure that ... the political process takes place. The alternative will be territorial gains but no sustainable peace. That is what you have to look at." He said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked him to report to the Security Council in November "whether the U.N. is in a position or not to convene a credible and balanced constitutional committee."That briefing, de Mistura said, "will be the most important one, certainly, of my mission."

Jordan: 279 Syrian 'White Helmets' Leave for West
Amman - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 18 October, 2018/Nearly 300 Syrian "White Helmet" rescue workers and their families who fled Syria for Jordan three months ago have left for resettlement in Western countries under a UN sponsored agreement, Jordan said on Wednesday. A group of 279 Syrian rescue workers has left the kingdom, a foreign ministry statement said. In July the rescue workers who had been operating in opposition-held areas fled advancing Russian-backed Syrian regime troops and slipped over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights frontier and into Jordan, with the help of Israeli soldiers and Western powers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time he had helped the evacuation at the request of US President Donald Trump and other leaders and that there had been fears that the rescue workers’ lives were at risk. Jordan had accepted them on humanitarian grounds after getting written guarantees they would be given asylum in Canada, Germany and Britain, Jordanian officials said. The "White Helmets", known officially as Syria Civil Defense, have been credited with saving thousands of people in opposition-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian regime and Russian forces in the country's civil war. Its members say they are neutral. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers describe them as tools of Western propaganda and insurgents. Jordan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Qatarneh said 279 of the 422 people who took sanctuary in the kingdom had left, with 93 others due to leave by Oct. 25, near the end of a three-month period the authorities had given them to stay. Another group's departure would be delayed for two weeks until mid November as there were new-born babies and people receiving medical treatment among them.
Trump Says Looks Like Khashoggi Dead, Threatens Consequences
Agence France/Associated Press/Naharnet/October 18/18/U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday it "certainly looks" as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, threatening "very severe" consequences if the Saudis are found to have murdered him. Trump, who has insisted that more facts must be known before making assumptions about Khashoggi, did not say on what he based his statement on the writer's demise two weeks ago. He commented as he left Joint Base Andrews for a political trip to Montana. Asked if Khashoggi was dead, he said, "It certainly looks that way. ... Very sad." As for the potential U.S. response to Saudi Arabia, which is accused of murdering the Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime, Trump said: "It will have to be very severe. It's bad, bad stuff." This marked a hardening of tone from the Trump administration, which has been reluctant to blame ally Saudi Arabia, despite mounting evidence that Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago. A former regime insider, Khashoggi had become a critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the point man in ever-tightening military and commercial relations between the Muslim petro-state and the Trump administration. Just hours earlier Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had told Trump the Saudis should be given "a few more days to complete" an investigation. Only then, Pompeo said, "we can make decisions how or if the United States should respond."

Khashoggi’s alleged fiancée and ties to radical ‘charity’ linked to ISIS, Qaeda
Huda al-Saleh, Al, 18 October 2018
Ever since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing in Istanbul, the name Hatice Cengiz has dominated the scene and remained at the forefront of news headlines despite the mysterious aura of the past 13 days. So who is this Turkish woman that emerged from behind her Twitter account to claim that she is Khashoggi’s fiancée? Hatice graduated from the Sharia college in the University of Istanbul in 2013 and got her MA in 2017 from the Faculty of Social Sciences – History Department at Salahaddin University after finishing a field study about sects in Oman. She later joined a study program at the Ibn Haldun University which is affiliated with the Justice and Development Party, and where Bilal Erdogan holds the post of Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Ibn Haldun University which was founded in 2015 signed educational and cultural cooperation agreements with the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies where the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Azmi Bishara. Hatice presented herself as a freelance researcher of Gulf countries and presented academic studies about Oman, but the most important question is: Which party was Hatice Cengiz working for then, and which center did her studies and articles serve?
The IHH Foundation
According to Turkish sources that Al Arabiya communicated with, and that are very familiar with Hatice, and after corroborating information with posts she placed on her Twitter account, Hatice worked with the Turkish charity organization IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation which is headed by Bulent Yildirim who is close to radical and extremist groups. This organization is considered close to the Turkish authorities. It made headlines in 2010 when its chief, Yildirim, organized the Mavi Marmara flotilla under the pretext of breaking the blockade of Gaza and resulting in the death and injury of several people.
On July 13, 2018, she interviewed Dar Al-Arab media group’s Executive Director Jaber al-Harmi for the foreign policy magazine, which is a periodical that is published in the Turkish and English languages and which is affiliated with the Institute of Foreign Policy that’s affiliated with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
In the interview, she addressed the convergence between Qatar and Iran and the stance of the countries that have boycotted Qatar. The topic was under the headline “Qatari-Iranian relations and the region’s developments after America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” and in it, Hatice criticized Saudi Arabia in exchange for extending the “olive branch of peace” to the Khomeini regime. Her affiliation with the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation explains her adoption of the Iranian approach, and this was clearly seen via her tweets that are in line with the policies of the organization whose head is well-known for his strong ties with the Iranian regime and his support of Khomeini policies. Sources close to Hatice’s family said the family did not know their daughter was engaged to Khashoggi and were surprised to hear the news which they only learnt via media reports, adding that Hatice does not live in the same house with her family.
Terrorist ties
The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was founded in 1992 and was officially registered in 1995. It was accused of being linked to extremist groups, like Al-Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS, and of playing a role in recruiting some of the latter groups’ members, dispatching them to conflict areas like Bosnia and Syria to gain fighting experience and providing logistical support to elements of global terror in the Middle East. In 2003, French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere testified as an expert witness before an American court and confirmed the Foundation’s important role in what was known as the 2000 millennium attack plots that were set to target the Los Angeles International Airport upon plans by Al-Qaeda. “The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up... in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahideen in combat. And also to go and gather [recruit] these Mujahideens. And finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or involved in weapons trafficking,” Bruguiere told the court. According to the IHH’s official website, there are strong cooperation ties between Yildirim and Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee Chairman Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri. These ties led to several partnership agreements with a number of Qatari institutions that are on terror lists issued by the anti-terror quartet, i.e. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Among these institutions are the Qatari Raf Foundation and Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association. This partnership also led to executing joint works in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and Gaza. On January 14, 2014, Turkish police raided the IHH’s offices in Kilis near the Syrian borders and confiscated computers. The raid came two weeks after the Foundation was accused of smuggling weapons and ammunition to Syria. The Turkish border guards had seized a Foundation truck carrying weapons after they were notified by the Russians. All charges, however, were dropped after what was known as the coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s justice minister calls on public to ‘ignore leaks’ in Khashoggi case
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 18 October 2018/Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül called on the public to ignore any leaked information in the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Several news outlets have released reports quoting anonymous official sources who claim to have found breaking evidence in the case, however, no concrete evidence has surfaced indicating any information about who is behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. This includes false stories about a group of 15 Saudi tourists who were accused of being government agents sent to kill Khashoggi, and stories about how his Apple watch revealed “recordings” indicating that he was tortured and killed. Both claims were falsified with a series of evidence and analyses. A list of other misreported inaccuracies and media retractions can be read here and here. Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman had responded to what he termed as the “grim and malicious” rumors over the investigation surrounding the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He stated that reports stating that the journalist was killed in the consulate are baseless, and that Khashoggi was a friend of his, and they had maintained contact when he was in Washington. Former National Security Adviser of US President George Bush, Frances Townsend, also tweeted on Thursday that Turkey should officially disclose of any evidence, or put an end to “leaks, innuendos & rumors.”
Twitter Ads info and privacy
“Turkey needs to officially spell out the evidence or stop the leaks, innuendo & rumor. Worth remembering that the only FACTS so far: Khashoggi went into Saudi consulate & is now missing,” Townsend said. Townsend was responding to Shashank Joshi, who is the defense editor at The Economist, who said that Turkey’s public statements, which many news outlets use as truth without corroborating the information, on the case were incompatible and contradictory. “Turkey can't simultaneously have video of alleged killing (as per Ozturk in NYT), know which room it occurred in (as per MEE), and still maintain suspicion he remains alive (as per WSJ, below). Some of this is evidently nonsense,” he said. Meanwhile, Turkish academic and columnist, Emre Uslu, presented on his Twitter account on Wednesday, evidence that contradicts the widespread scenarios surrounding the disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. In a thread of tweets, Uslu said that he was trying to “highlight the major problems” in the Turkish police’s investigation, adding that he does not support any theory relating to the 15 Saudi tourists accused of having a hand in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Uslu cites the findings of the Turkish police, pointing out what they missed to provide. Jamal Khashoggi disappeared since he left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His family has confirmed that they are working with the Saudi government, reaffirming their trust in the government’s investigation.

Dutch Minister Ditches Saudi Summit over Khashoggi
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/The Dutch finance minister has pulled out of a big investment conference in Saudi Arabia over the "very serious" disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government said Thursday. Wopke Hoekstra's withdrawal from the October 23-25 Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh -- dubbed the "Davos in the Desert" -- follows that of French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and IMF chief Christine Lagarde. "The disappearance of #Khashoggi is a very serious matter. Saudi Arabia has not yet been able to provide any clarification," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said as he announced the decision on Twitter. "That is why we decided @WBHoekstra will not travel to Riyadh today. The Netherlands stands for press freedom, worldwide." An array of policy-makers and corporate chiefs have already pulled out of the conference in Saudi Arabia, risking the loss of lucrative business with the kingdom. Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States where he contributed to the Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He was critical of some of Saudi Arabia's policies. Turkish officials claim he was killed and dismembered in the consulate by a hit squad which arrived from Riyadh -- claims denied by the Saudi government.
US Newspaper Publishes 'Last Piece' by Missing Saudi Journalist
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/Two weeks after he disappeared, The Washington Post on Wednesday published what it said appears to be Jamal Khashoggi's final column, in which the missing Saudi journalist writes of the importance of a free press in the Arab world. Such a forum is currently lacking, says Khashoggi, a Post contributor and US resident who disappeared entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2. "The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power," he writes. "The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices," Khashoggi writes."Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face." The ultimate fate of Khashoggi -- whose writings have been critical of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- is still unknown, but leaks by anonymous Turkish officials have painted a picture of him allegedly meeting a grisly demise in the consulate at the hands of Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia has denied to the United States having knowledge of what happened at the consulate. In the introduction to Khashoggi's column -- which was accompanied by a photo of the smiling writer -- the Post's Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said the newspaper held off on publishing it in the hopes that he would return. "Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post," Attiah wrote. "This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for."

French Minister Pulls Out of Saudi Conference over Khashoggi
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday he was pulling out of a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "I won't go to Riyadh next week," Le Maire told France's Public Senat TV channel, adding that "the current circumstances do not allow me to go to Riyadh". The minister echoed President Emmanuel Macron's remarks last week on Khashoggi's disappearance, calling it a "very serious" matter. "The important thing now is that the full truth of this affair be known," said Le Maire, who said he informed his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday of his decision. Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States where he contributed to the Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He was critical of some of Saudi Arabia's policies.
Turkish officials claim he was killed and dismembered in the consulate by a hit squad which arrived from Riyadh -- claims denied by the Saudi government. Le Maire's decision to pull out of the October 23-25 Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh -- dubbed the "Davos in the Desert" -- follows that of International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde. The IMF said Wednesday that Lagarde had "deferred" her trip to the Middle East, without giving an explanation. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he will decide on Thursday whether to attend. Several Western business titans and media groups have already pulled out of the conference organized by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. Like other Western allies of the world's biggest oil exporter, France had embraced Saudi Arabia's powerful new de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as a reformer. Macron hosted the 33-year-old prince for a private dinner at the Louvre museum when he visited Paris in April. Saudi Arabia was the second-biggest purchaser of French weapons between 2008 and 2017, after India, signing deals for some 12 billion euros ($13.8 billion) in French weaponry.

Turkish Newspaper Accuses Saudi Official over Missing Journalist
Naharnet/October 18/18/A pro-government Turkish newspaper on Thursday pointed a finger at a Saudi security official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as Riyadh's ally Washington kept up its cautious stance. More than two weeks since Khashoggi disappeared after stepping inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, neither Turkey nor the United States have publicly confirmed he is dead or said that Riyadh is to blame. But with a steady stream of sometimes macabre claims leaked to the Turkish press, Riyadh is under increasing pressure to explain what happened to Khashoggi, a former regime insider who became critical of Prince Mohammed. Turkish police overnight undertook a nine-hour search of the residence of the Saudi consul to Istanbul -- who abruptly left the country on Tuesday -- and also searched the consulate for the second time. The controversy threatens to rip apart Prince Mohammed's attempt to portray himself as a modernising Arab ruler, with his planned investment conference in Riyadh next week hit by a litany of big name cancellations.
'Execution team head'
Turkish press reports -- which commentators suspect are based on deliberate government leaks -- have suggested that Khashoggi was killed by a 15-person "assassination team" who flew in on two chartered planes and then interrogated, tortured and killed him. The pro-government Sabah newspaper on Thursday said Saudi security official Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was the leader of the alleged team. He has been previously photographed close to the crown prince. "Here is the head of the execution team," said Sabah's headline, and the paper then detailed Mutreb's movements on the day Khashoggi went missing. Giving precise times based on CCTV footage, the newspaper reported that Mutreb went into the consulate more than three hours before Khashoggi entered the building. In a series of CCTV images, Mutreb was then seen outside the consul's residence, then later at his hotel near the Saudi mission with a "large suitcase", and finally at the airport in the early evening. Mutreb was then seen outside the consul's residence in another CCTV image, then later at his hotel near the Saudi mission with a "large suitcase" and finally at the airport in the early evening. The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper on Wednesday claimed it had heard audio tapes in which Khashoggi's alleged killers tortured him by cutting his fingers off before his decapitation. But such details have yet to be aired publicly by the Turkish leadership under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Turkey is managing the process very carefully, successfully," Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said, without giving further details on the inquiry. Riyadh has strongly denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.
'US asked for tapes'
After US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited both Riyadh and Ankara, President Donald Trump Wednesday defended his cautious stance over Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the US. "I'm not giving cover (to Saudi Arabia) at all," he has insisted, vowing that the truth would come out within days. He indicated that the US administration had not heard the tapes referred to by Yeni Safak and added he wanted Turkey share the evidence. He said the United States had "asked for it (the tapes), if it exists. I am not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does". In the searches at the Saudi consul's residence, Turkish investigators were seen by AFP reporters paying particular attention to the garage and later left carrying evidence in bags and boxes. Abdulkadir Selvi, a pro-government columnist in the Hurriyet newspaper, said Turkish investigators found that an "expert team" tried to remove evidence from the consulate. Selvi said that despite the attempt, investigators were able obtain some evidence and added it would be correct to describe Khashoggi's disappearance as an "assassination".
'Iron Curtain'
The Washington Post Wednesday published what it said appeared to be Khashoggi's final column for the US newspaper, where he wrote of the importance of a free media in the Arab world. "The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power," he wrote. "The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices." The US newspaper said it had held off publishing the column in the hopes that he would return, but Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah accepted this was no longer possible. The furore has also blown a huge hole in next week's Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, which was meant to showcase Prince Mohammed's plans for reform. French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday became the latest in an array of policy-makers and corporate chiefs to pull out. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will decide later on Thursday whether to attend.

UK PM Mulls Longer Transition as EU Demands Brexit Progress
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 18/18/Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Thursday she was open to extending a Brexit transition period if it helped unblock negotiations, after EU leaders repeated that Britain must do more to avoid crashing out of the bloc without a deal. EU negotiator Michel Barnier suggested the extension as a way of breaking the deadlock on how to keep Britain's border with Ireland open after Brexit, which is holding up the whole divorce agreement. But a source in the French presidency warned this may not resolve the problem, while May also faces opposition to the idea from her eurosceptic MPs at home. This week's Brussels summit had been set as the deadline for a draft deal, but EU leaders have instead been left to contemplate the potentially catastrophic scenario of Britain crashing out in March without any agreement. Arriving for a second day of talks, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a "backstop" plan to avoid frontier checks with Ireland if and until a new trade deal could be signed that resolves the issue. "A further idea that has emerged -- and it is an idea at this stage -- is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months," she said. A senior EU official said that Britain would have to ask for the extension, and then the other 27 member states would have to agree. "More than ever, the ball is in Britain's court," said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as he arrived for Thursday’s talks.
'Outrageous non-starter'
May emphasised she did not expect the extension to be needed beyond the current date of December 2020, amid anger among eurosceptic members of her Conservative party that Britain could be tied to the EU indefinitely. "The point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020," the prime minister said. May has been struggling since the 2016 vote for Brexit to find a compromise that is acceptable to both the EU and to her own MPs, who could block the final deal in the House of Commons. The possibility of an extension made front-page news in Britain on Thursday and some eurosceptic MPs warned they could not accept such a plan. The top-selling The Sun tabloid warned it was "an outrageous non-starter". "Unless she can give a date when we will leave the EU and ALL its major institutions she cannot claim to have fulfilled the referendum vote", it said in an editorial. But the EU is upping the pressure on May to give ground. European leaders had hoped to hold a special summit in November to seal the divorce, but at a Brussels dinner without May late Wednesday they refused to sign off on the plan. Officials noted May had failed to respond to a call by EU President Donald Tusk for "concrete proposals" of her own to move the talks forward, and said more progress was needed. Failure to meet in November could see a draft Brexit deal pushed back to a December summit, leaving little time for its ratification by the British and European parliaments. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said EU leaders had asked the bloc's executive "to work with even more vigour on a no-deal scenario".

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
October 18-19/18
Insider Trading Isn’t So Simple
Matt Levine/Bloomberg/October 18/18
Insider trading.
I have quoted it before, but the Justice Department’s brief asking the Supreme Court to review the Newman insider trading decision is really one of the most interesting documents in insider trading law. Here is how it describes the work of stock analysts:
Effective professional analysis of the value of a company’s stock is a labor-intensive process that demands extensive research, an understanding of financial and other technical data, in-depth knowledge of the relevant industry, and sophisticated modeling. If certain analysts sidestep that labor by siphoning secret information from insiders in breach of their duties, thereby arriving at “predictions” of corporate performance that no model can equal, then other analysts will be discouraged from doing the work that is necessary for the markets to function effectively.
The model of investment analysis here is one of book learning and arithmetic: You read a lot of public information about companies and industries and stuff, then you build a spreadsheet to do some really good math on a company’s public financial statements, and then you have a view of value that is better than everyone else’s. This is, of course, an extremely popular model of investment analysis, among amateur investors and professionals and also robots. And it does tend to make markets more efficient, prices more informed: Reading a company’s public disclosures all the way through, and doing good arithmetic to them, is not trivial, and the work of doing it is socially valuable.
But it is not the only model. A lot of securities analysis is conducted by telephone. Analysts develop hunches about what is behind the numbers in the published reports, and then call up the company to ask about them. They meet with corporate executives or investment-relations professionals one-on-one or at conferences. They talk to corporate executives to propose transactions or stock buybacks or management changes, and listen to the executives’ responses. They talk to experts in the field, some of whom might have experience with the company’s products. They talk to patent lawyers about its patents, geologists about its oil reserves, information security researchers about its data practices. They talk to the company’s suppliers to see how many supplies it is buying, and to its retailers to see how many units it is shipping. They call up lobbyists to get insight on how Congress and the agencies will regulate the company. They find former employees on LinkedIn and ask them about the company’s morale, and if it’s doing any fraud. They commission proprietary surveys of consumers, or pay pollsters for early access to their surveys. They fly helicopters over the company’s oil tanks, or pay satellite companies for images of its parking lots. The techniques of gathering information are infinite, and they tend to focus on getting information that other people don’t have.
Are all of these things fair? I don’t know what “fair” means. Are all of them legal? In insider trading, famously, nobody quite knows what “legal” means. There is no statute defining or prohibiting insider trading, and the Securities and Exchange Commission rules on it are slim. But there are some judicially created rules that more or less make sense, that focus, roughly speaking, on whether insiders are using someone else’s information for their own gain. (A question that has nothing to do with market fairness, by the way.) But those rules are hazy and much disputed, and they aren’t written down in one place.

The strategic and spiritual weight of Saudi Arabia
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/October 18/18
American-Saudi relations were built as part of a legacy of interests after World War II. Ever since the meeting between Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz, and the Eisenhower Doctrine with King Saud all the way through to the several agreements and consecutive meetings with crown princes and kings, the relations were not only based on cultural ties, religious dimensions or geographic locations. They revolved around interests; the more they were strengthened, the more solid ties were, and when they begin to fade, they would be in danger. In his interview with Bloomberg, Prince Mohammed bin Salman noted that the relationship with Trump is built on work. Obama’s agenda that worked against Saudi Arabia was not effective as Saudi Arabia maintained its influence and strategic work and path in the region. The kingdom’s strategic weight comes from taking the lead in terms of its ability to provide the world with oil, look after the Two Holy Mosques and having a spiritual power, which millions of Muslims feel around the world. Everyone knows what happened and what caused the disturbance in the region after Obama turned away from Saudi Arabia and preferred to negotiate with Iran. This is when the disaster happened
Targeting Saudi Arabia
Following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a front of “adversaries” was formed to attack Saudi Arabia without waiting for the results of the investigation. It’s a political attack led by Qatar along with a group of leftists, nationalists, Brotherhood remnants and imbecile figures via news segments and programs. The adversaries colluded to carry out this attack as they saw in the disappearance of Jamal an opportunity to direct their arrows at Saudi Arabia. They thus employed their full potential to serve personal vendetta aims and launch a political war.
The state of Qatar which is outcast by countries whose population is more than 150 million in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain is suffering from a severe geographic crisis and it’s politically suffocated, so it wanted to avenge via all means possible even if it’s through lies and fabrications.
The Khashoggi case has created a tense media atmosphere as reporters are asking Trump about him whenever they get the chance regardless of the occasion they are covering. Saudi Arabia has overcome bigger crises and it has the ability to confront threats via its capabilities and alliances in the region as it’s not an incapable country.
Close US relations
Everyone knows what happened and what caused the disturbance in the region after Obama turned away from Saudi Arabia and preferred to negotiate with Iran. This is when the disaster happened, and the region with its history of cultural convergence between nations via the Mediterranean area turned into fronts of evil, terrorism and ethnic and religious massacres. Pompeo’s visit to Riyadh gave the relation between the two countries positive vibes. Pompeo is one of the prominent wise men in the current American administration. He along with the king and the crown prince can renew the formulas of interests and strategic convergence in the region. There is a need to coordinate in Yemen and Syria, the nature of the Turkish role, the war on terrorism and leading the Islamic world towards a renewed religious rhetoric. These are tasks which only Saudi Arabia with its political, geographic and spiritual weight can assume.
Pompeo’s remarks confirmed there’s a Saudi political insistence to investigate Khashoggi’s case and King Salman ordered the public prosecutor to conduct an internal probe into the Khashoggi disappearance. This reflects exceptional seriousness and quick actions to find answers to all mysteries. Saudi Arabia has its long history, it defended its existence against the forces of evil and the rounds of wars lasted for 300 years. It can carry out its roles towards its people and surroundings without blackmail or beneficence from anyone.

Israel’s war planes unlikely to be deterred by Syrian missiles
محمد شبارو:  من غير المحتمل أن تردع الصواريخ السورية غارات الطائرات الإسرائيلية
Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 17, 2018
The Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system that is set to be delivered to Syria — whether it will be operated by the Syrian military loyal to President Bashar Assad or by his Russian allies — is unlikely to alter much the free hand Israel has enjoyed in the skies above Syria and Lebanon, at least for the foreseeable future.
The delivery of the S-300 system, if it happens, will no doubt give the Syrian military an advanced weapon system that could check Israeli supremacy, but it will not be a game-changer that will push Tel Aviv to cease its targeting of Iranian and Hezbollah military assets that are deemed threats to Israel’s security.
In the seven years since the start of the popular rebellion against Assad and his family’s rule, Israel has not attempted to interfere or even encourage the removal of Assad. Israel has always believed that Assad’s rule in Syria should continue so that it can maintain the stability of its northern border. Some even believe that Israel has lobbied through its international diplomatic channels to veto the removal of the weakened Assad regime, and that all Tel Aviv is concerned with is that the regime remain weak and that Assad’s boisterous Iranian and Lebanese allies are banned from having high-tech missile technology on Syrian soil.
Since the Russian deployment in Syria in September 2015 to prop up the Assad regime’s forces, the Israeli air force has carried out numerous attacks targeting Hezbollah militia commanders, ammunition dumps, Iranian missile development infrastructure, Iranian drone launch sites, and Iranian and Hezbollah missile convoys in Syria and Lebanon.
In the past three years, military air traffic control in Syria has never been this busy, but it has been extremely well managed thanks to Russian liaison and coordination efforts between all parties. Israeli war planes had unhindered access to strike 200 targets in 2018 alone, while the international coalition against Daesh flew tens of thousands of sorties and struck hundreds of Daesh positions. The Russian, Iraqi and Syrian air forces have also carried out thousands of sorties, and Iran has launched dozens of drones and long-range missile attacks without any major incident.
But the controversial downing of a Russian military Ilyushin Il-20 plane with 15 personnel on board — most probably by a Syrian military shoulder-operated surface-to-air missile — in September somewhat spoiled the seamless Israeli-Russian understanding over Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is waiting for his next meeting with President Vladimir Putin to clear the air, as Israel has again rejected Moscow’s attempt to hold it responsible for the deaths of the Russian servicemen. Israel has disputed the Russian findings and says its jets were back in Israeli airspace when the Russian plane was hit.
For Israel, it is evident that it wants to continue hitting Iranian and Hezbollah targets in neighboring Syria despite Moscow’s decision to equip Damascus with the S-300 system. The S-300 could only limit Tel Aviv’s free hand over Syria if Russia also supplies the latest radars, advanced counter measures systems and friendly and enemy plane identification software at the heart of the incident that saw the Ilyushin plane downed by the Syrian military.
The S-300 is, above all, a politically sensitive weapon system and a strategic balance of power breaker.
History has shown that, even at the height of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1960s and 70s, Moscow refrained from supplying its Arab allies with technology that threatened Israel’s strategic supremacy, and this sensitive Russian balancing act continues today.
The S-300 is one of a series of highly capable varieties of long-range surface-to-air missile first developed and deployed in the USSR in 1979, and later modified and upgraded by the Russian armed forces. As well as targeting aircraft, the fully mobile units also have the capacity to engage ballistic missiles. But the S-300 is, above all, a politically sensitive weapon system and a strategic balance of power breaker, hence the long Russian hesitation to supply it to Damascus and Tehran.
Yet the bottom line still depends on Putin. Though his minister of defense has been keen to protect Russian forces in Syria with electronic warfare systems, as well as equipping Assad’s forces with tracking and guidance systems to prevent future mishaps, I tend to believe that the status quo will not be affected. The Israeli-Russian hotlines established in 2015 will continue to be the medium to prevent accidents, while Israeli war planes will be allowed to monitor and act unhindered against what they consider to be enemy targets in Syria.
Putin’s Russia has mastered the act of balancing its interests with those of its allies, such as Turkey, Iran and Israel. Putin succeeded in pushing the Iranians back more than 100 kilometers from the occupied Golan Heights border area at the request of Tel Aviv. He also turned his back on his Iranian allies many times as Moscow failed to supply Tehran with the S-400 system — a more advanced version of the S-300. The Russian military stood idle as Israeli war planes neutralized Iranian weapon systems destined for Hezbollah, assassinated key Iranian and Hezbollah field commanders, and removed Iran’s advanced drone operation bases in Syria without the slightest reaction from Tehran or its allies.
In Syria’s many wars, the modus vivendi governing the relations of all the militaries involved is likely to continue. The only minor adjustments may be for Israel should Putin decide to cross the strategic threshold and arm Assad’s military with sensitive weapons that could make its operations more problematic, but not impossible, in the busy skies above Syria.
*Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy. He is also a media consultant and trainer.

Five things to know about 'MBS,' Saudi Arabia's crown prince
Tal Axelrod/The Hill/October 18/18
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been caught in an international firestorm over his alleged involvement in the disappearance and suspected death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
Khashoggi was a Saudi-born U.S. resident who wrote for The Washington Post and was critical of the Saudi royal court. The New York Times reported that multiple suspects in Khashoggi’s disappearance had close ties to the crown prince.
Khashoggi’s suspected death is arguably the biggest international crisis Salman, who is often referred to by the nickname "MBS," has faced during his time in the Saudi royal court. Salman, who is a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder and first monarch, Ibn Saud, has risen through the ranks of the Saudi government in recent years to become the nation's most prominent figure on the world stage.
He started as head of the Crown Prince’s Court in 2013 after his father was appointed the crown prince. When his father became king in 2015, Salman was appointed minister of defense and then deputy crown prince later that year. Salman replaced his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince, the second in line to the king, in June 2017.
Here are five things to know about the leader known as MBS.
He has overseen a crackdown on dissent
While ostensibly opening up the Saudi economy and society at large, MBS directed a swift crackdown on dissent that reached the highest echelons of power.
Over a dozen senior Saudi officials, including business leaders and even competing members of the royal family, were locked inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh in what the royal court claimed was an anti-corruption sweep.
Among those arrested were billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the former head of the royal court Khaled Al-Tuwaijri and Saudi media mogul Waleed Al-Ibrahim.
Amnesty International also reported that in August two women activists were thrown in jail for speaking out against the government.
MBS, 33, is “someone who sees himself as a transformational, historical figure who’s going to change Saudi Arabia," according to Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy. "Oftentimes when you have these authoritarian modernizers, they have little tolerance for dissent…because they want to make change in their own image. The reformer narrative can coexist with this other side of MBS instead of being seen as opposed or mutually exclusive."
Khashoggi himself was openly supportive of MBS’s reforms, but the crackdown on dissent eventually led him to flee the country.
He has cultivated an image as a reformer
MBS launched an ambitious reform initiative called "Vision 2030" in 2016, which involved bringing economic and social change to Saudi Arabia. The plan called for increasing non-oil revenue in the kingdom by over $260 billion by 2030 and creating “the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.”
“We commit ourselves to providing world-class government services which effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our citizens. Together we will continue building a better country, fulfilling our dream of prosperity and unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of our young men and women,” MBS wrote in launching "Vision 2030."
Subsequent reforms included allowing women to drive cars and enter sports stadiums for the first time in the kingdom’s history, as well as opening movie theaters.
The reforms were welcomed in the West. The White House issued a statement praising the decision to lift the driving ban for women, and members of the media heaped praise on the young ruler's apparent desire to liberalize at least some aspects of Saudi Arabia's rigidly conservative society. In March, Salman toured the U.S. and sat down for interviews with multiple news outlets.
But the Khashoggi crisis could impact that image.
“No one can talk about MBS as a positive force for change in Saudi Arabia anymore with a straight face. It’s done,” Hamid told The Hill.
“He’ll survive, but part of his image was building ties beyond governments and building relationships with tech companies and entertainment agencies and really having this charm offensive, so it will change some of that for him for sure,” he added.
He's a key ally of the Trump administration
MBS has close ties with members of the Trump administration and is seen by Washington as vital to its efforts to counter Iran and combat terrorism in the Middle East.
The crown prince has held long meetings with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, who reportedly played a significant role in promoting MBS as a potential partner in the region.
The president has also praised MBS, saying, “We’ve become very good friends over a very short period of time,” at an Oval Office meeting with the crown prince in March and touting an arms sale that Trump says will bring billions of dollars into the US.
Trump has evoked that arms sale in public comments since the recent crisis, as he remains hesitant to punish Saudi Arabia for its possible involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.
Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that "We need Saudi Arabia," arguing that pulling back from the arms sale would hurt American workers.
MBS has also overseen an aggressive foreign policy in the region, including launching a military campaign against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen while he was defense minister; directing support toward rebel groups in Syria fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad; and organizing a multinational blockade of Qatar over its government’s purported ties to terrorist groups.
The Trump administration has been criticized heavily over its supplying of weapons and military training to Saudi Arabia-backed forces in Yemen, which has resulted in massive civilian causalities and a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest nation.
MBS also called on the White House to keep troops in Syria despite Trump’s stated desire to withdraw, telling Time in March, “We believe American troops should stay for at least the mid-term, if not the long-term.”
The blockade surrounding Qatar has also forced the White House and State Department to walk a delicate tight rope, as it seeks to avoid a confrontation with one of its closest allies in the Middle East while protecting its interests in Qatar, which houses the largest US military base in the region. Qatar has denied any connections to terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in the Trump administration’s signature Middle East policy: countering Iranian influence in the region. In that effort, MBS has proven to be a staunch ally, citing Iran in his campaigns in Yemen and Syria.
“Trump does see Saudi Arabia as perhaps even central to his broader Middle East strategy, and that includes isolating Iran,” Hamid said.
“Human rights abuses don’t figure prominently in how he looks at things. He seems to really want to find a way to move. I think it should strain the relationship but I’m not sure it will in any lasting way, at least with Trump himself,” he added.
He's facing his biggest crisis on the world stage so far
MBS has faced international scandals during his time on the royal court. It was reported that the crown prince was heavily involved in a plot to possibly kidnap Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2017.
Hariri abruptly announced his resignation in November during a trip to Saudi Arabia, prompting speculation that the Saudis had coaxed him to travel away from Lebanon and then detain him. Parties in each of the countries said the other nation had declared war.
Hariri eventually returned to Lebanon after widespread criticism of Saudi Arabia and suspended, then rescinded, the resignation.
And yet, despite questions surrounding the incident with Hariri, as well as the anti-corruption campaign and the brutality of the war in Yemen, tensions did not boil over between Saudi Arabia and its Western allies until Khashoggi was reported missing.
Politicians on Capitol Hill were quick to condemn Saudi Arabia and MBS over the Khashoggi disappearance, with Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) saying the US should “sanction the hell” out of Saudi Arabia and that MBS has “got to go.”
“This story is different because it brings all the other issues to the fore. I’m not seeing it as one isolated incident, I’m seeing it as a culmination and the discontent with MBS has been building in Washington and this is the one thing that has brought it all out,” Hamid told The Hill.
“One thing that’s different about this is that it’s so brazen and it seem disrespectful to the US…It’s one thing to deal with unsavory actors, which the US has done for decades. It’s another thing to have it shoved in your face when one of your allies does something as crazy and reckless as this,” he added.
He's likely to survive politically
The Khashoggi scandal has led observers to question what will become of MBS now that he's no longer seen as the reformer he once was.
“I don’t see how Saudi Arabia completely recovers from this. There might be some reversion to business as usual, but because this case has gotten so much public and international attention…that it could have permanent effects on the image of Saudi Arabia and MBS in particular,” Hamid said.
However, Saudi Arabia, with its massive oil reserves and influence in the Middle East, still holds significant sway among world powers and is unlikely to become a pariah state, as evidenced by Trump’s recent defense of MBS.
As the crown prince, MBS is officially second in power and answerable only to King Salman himself. Hamid predicts that the damage from the Khashoggi scandal will be contained to MBS’s image, while his stature within the royal court will not take a hit. He’ll remain an international figure because “he’s going to be Saudi Arabia’s leader, which means he will matter. And there’s nothing really anyone can do about that," Hamid said.

Opportunistic Iran regime supports Al-Qaeda-linked terror group
الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: نظام إيران الوصولي يدعم جماعة الشباب الصومالية الإرهابية المرتبطة بالقاعدة

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 18/18
UN experts have recently shared a report with the organization’s Security Council that describes in detail how the Iranian regime has been cooperating with and assisting an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group.
The as-yet-unpublished report, which has been seen by the Associated Press, sheds light on a sophisticated process through which the Iranian regime has been facilitating the path for the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab to circumvent UN sanctions and make millions of dollars of profit every year. The process involves using false Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana certificates of origin to import sanctioned Somali charcoal, before repackaging it from typical blue-green bags into white bags labeled as "Product of Iran," according to the report.
This development highlights the fact that Iran’s political establishment does not hesitate in assisting terror and militia groups by exploiting the legitimacy granted to it by the UN. In addition, the theocratic establishment has been taking advantage of the concept of sovereignty by permitting the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group to use its lands and ports as transit points. The Iranian regime has also been making its ships accessible as cover for such smuggling.
Mostly likely, the two major players that have been facilitating these illicit activities are Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite wing, the Quds Force, which carries out operations in foreign nations. The US has been considering officially designating the IRGC as a terror group. The Liberal Party of Canada has also been calling on its government to label the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Former Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae hit the nail on the head when he said: “The IRGC of Iran is a paramilitary organization involved in domestic repression, military operations and support for terrorist networks, and yet Canada has not yet listed the IRGC as a terrorist organization. That must change.”
This is not the first time that a UN report has revealed a link between Iran and militia groups. Earlier this year, a UN paper conclusively proved a connection between Iran’s short-range ballistic missiles and the Houthis.
With regards to Al-Shabab, the UN sanctions were aimed at choking off the flow of money to this Somali militant group. Nevertheless, Iran is most likely cognizant of the fact that a continuous flow of money is a necessity for terror and militia groups when it comes to pursuing terrorist activities. Last year, Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for carrying out one of the country’s largest and deadliest terrorist attacks; a truck bombing in Mogadishu, the capital , which killed at least 500 people.
Facilitating Al-Shabab’s illegal charcoal trade does not only provide the sole means for the group to commit terrorist activities; it also brings about severe environmental and economic repercussions as it disrupts the domestic market. As Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohammed Guled stated: “We need cooperation to implement the UN Security Council (sanctions) and ensure the environmental, economic and human losses that happen because of the illegal charcoal trade are curbed.”
For the Iranian regime, as long as there are common ideological interests — such as promoting terrorism, chaos and instability — religious differences will not be considered a priority. That is why a trove of 470,000 documents previously released by the CIA revealed close ties between Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime dating back many years.
Another important issue to highlight is the link between the Iranian regime and Sunni terror groups. Since Iran’s ruling theocracy has been widely linked to Shiite militias and terror groups, some policy analysts and scholars have been surprised that Tehran would cooperate with Sunni extremists such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. What should be surprising is that some still do not appear to grasp the nature of the long and close relationship between Iran and such fundamentalist groups.
For the Iranian regime, as long as there are common ideological interests — such as promoting terrorism, chaos and instability — religious differences will not be considered a priority. That is why a trove of 470,000 documents previously released by the CIA revealed close ties between Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime dating back many years.
Tehran views militant and terror groups such as Al-Shabab through the prism of political opportunism. From the Iranian leaders’ perspective, extremists can form invaluable non-state terrorist groups that could accomplish Iran’s two main revolutionary principles: Anti-Americanism and undermining Saudi Arabia’s interests in the region.
In other words, the Sunni-Shiite division between Al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as Al-Shabab, and the Iranian regime was never an issue for Tehran as long as the terrorist groups could help it accomplish its revolutionary principles, destabilize the region, and achieve the mullahs’ regional ambitions.
Finally, the Iranian regime ought to be held liable for assisting Al-Shabab financially and helping the militant group skirt UN sanctions. By facilitating the flow of money to Al-Shabab, the Islamic Republic is contributing to those terrorist attacks carried out by the group, which have resulted in hundreds of innocent people losing their lives. The Iranian leaders engaged in such smuggling and illicit activities must be sanctioned.
If it were not for Iran’s ongoing assistance, Al-Shabab would be less likely to have the opportunity to continue expanding its power and commit some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the world.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

The Chilling Effect of the Khashoggi Case: A Trigger for Arabs Living in Fear
Tuqa Nusairat/Atlantic Council/October 18/18
Since the apparent murder-disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, analysts have focused primarily on the implications for US-Saudi relations and the future of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s vision for domestic reforms. Absent from policy discussions and analysis is the impact of brutally silencing a mild critic of an autocratic regime on the psyche of 450 million Arabs, most of whom still live under regimes that severely limit freedoms of speech, protest, political participation, and religion.
Yet just as the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was a trigger for survivors of sexual assault, the murder-disappearance of Khashoggi is a trigger for the millions of Arabs who are survivors of autocratic regimes. For them, the unapologetic silencing of a citizen who critiqued his country’s policies is a reminder of the reality they face on a daily basis: the inability to practice the most basic forms of expression, let alone engage in nonviolent protest or direct criticism of their rulers and government.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump instead highlighted the importance of US weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, which would total approximately $110 billion over the next ten years for US defense companies. He made it clear that if Congress were to impose sanctions, Saudi Arabia could easily turn to China and Russia, dealing the United States a significant economic blow. Others have noted, with evidence mounting of the Kingdom’s responsibility for the disappearance of Khashoggi, how self-defeating this strategy is for the Saudi monarchy as it attempts to reclaim its role as leader of the Arab world and head of the anti-Iran alliance.
The calculated reactions to the Khashoggi case are a painful reminder that the world views the Middle East in purely transactional ways and responds only when a crime is so brazen that it is impossible to look the other way. It is a reminder that if Khashoggi, an elite who enjoyed connections inside and outside high-level Saudi circles, could not protect himself from disappearing in broad daylight on foreign soil, then there is little hope for the budding Arab journalist or civic activist striving for the freedoms that the West continues to hold so dear and shame the Arab world for not having.
Indeed, Khashoggi’s case has caused an international outcry due to the gruesome and brazen nature of the alleged crime and, more importantly, his name recognition and relationships throughout the Arab world and in Washington where he penned columns for the Washington Post. While journalists in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Morocco, and Gulf countries have been silenced through a variety of means—from losing jobs to being thrown in jail to being forcibly disappeared—the majority do not have the benefit of connections around the world or a diplomatic scandal to bring attention to their plight. Countless others engage in self-censorship whether at home or abroad, fearful of the deadly consequences for themselves and their families.
Ironically, the Khashoggi incident is a reminder that while young Arabs would be lauded if they contributed to their country’s vision for economic and social reform by, for example, launching a startup or making internationally acclaimed films, if they decide to speak out about the repression that suffocates them they will likely face torture in Damascus, jail in Cairo, or a quiet disappearance in corners of the Gulf. In fact, over the past week, warnings came through Saudi state television and social media accounts, with political figures threatening their viewers and followers against “isolating” or insulting Saudi Arabia in light of these “foolish” allegations and “fake news.”
These not so subtle messages aim to instill fear in the hearts and minds of young Arabs, alluding to a fate similar to Khashoggi’s for anyone who crosses the line. Manal Al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who led the effort to advocate for women to drive in the Kingdom, expressed the hopelessness that many in the Arab world felt while watching the Khashoggi case unfold: “I'm thankful that I left the region just in time. If you too can leave with what’s left from your sanity and dignity, please do. Don't fight the system, don't have hopes, don't speak up, don't dream, don't breathe, just leave.”
Two years ago, the Atlantic Council’s Albright-Hadley Middle East Strategy Task Force recommended a new strategic approach to the region that “emphasizes political and economic transformation, and requires profound reforms of states in the region.” The Task Force recognized that this was no easy feat: “These are difficult undertakings requiring strong encouragement from supportive external powers. Yet unless regional states move resolutely toward an updated social contract that empowers citizens and enshrines accountability, the investment being made in the region’s human capital will not bear fruit.”
How can we help unlock the Middle East’s human potential when a dark cloud of repression hangs over the people of the region? Many analysts have tiptoed around Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, carefully lauding its ambitious economic and social reforms, while arguing that political reform is a secondary necessity. Very few historical examples show that to be the case, and there are also few examples of political change yielding quick economic growth. The post-Arab Spring transitions have shown that change does not come without significant challenges as well as immediate costs for us in the West.
In the short run, a fragile new “democracy” in the Middle East may not be as Western friendly as we would like it to be, but, in the long run, countries that allow their citizens the freedom to express themselves are more likely to yield stability and security for the region and its allies. As long as a cloud of repression keeps journalists from critiquing their governments and activists from holding officials accountable, there will be little hope of winding down the conflicts and unrest in the Middle East, much less unlocking the economic and creative potential of the region.
**Tuqa Nusairat is the deputy director for the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Follow her @tuqanusairat.